Egyptian children watch t.v at the Banati Foundation shelter, a civil society organization that works with street children, in the capital Cairo on February 16, 2017. AFP / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED
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Barefoot and wearing shabby clothes, the 2-year-old wanders through the dirty streets of Cairo alongside her mother, who has also spent all her life without a home of her own. For Egypt's government and civil society groups, tackling the growing problem of street children – some from second- and even third-generation homeless families – is proving difficult.According to the most recent ministry figures from a 2014 survey, Egypt has about 16,000 street children, said Hazem al-Mallah, spokesman for the "Children Without Shelter" program.However, the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, estimates there are tens of thousands of street children in the country, its Egypt representative Bruno Maes says.Hannah Aboulghar, a pediatrician at the Banati Foundation that has worked with street children since 2009, says no figures are credible but the problem is getting worse.About 24 million people – nearly a third of the country's 90-million population – live below the poverty line, according to official figures.
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