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DNA test to help reunite vagrant kids with their parents

By He Dan (China Daily)

09:10, December 28, 2011

A teenager, unsure of his identity and living on a street corner near Beijing Railway Station, is helped by China Daily photographer Wang Jing on Tuesday before being taken to a care center. (Wang Jing/China Daily)

BEIJING - A vagrant boy sat all huddled up in a corner of Beijing Railway Station, trying to keep himself warm in the chilly wind on Tuesday afternoon.

He could only remember that he was 16 and that his home was far away from Beijing but failed to provide other vital information such as his name or home address.

Two officials from the social assistance center for the homeless in Beijing's Dongcheng district came to his assistance within half an hour of receiving a passer-by's call. The boy was taken to the center's office for some paper work and then sent to a shelter for the homeless in Fengtai district.

"Our center handles about three or four similar cases every month. Those whose family cannot be contacted immediately are sent to the shelter," said Cao Hui, an official who came to the railway station to pick up the boy.

The method of collecting vagrants and sending them to shelters would include an extra step by 2013, according to a notice jointly issued by eight government departments, including the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), on Monday.

The circular required the public security, urban management authorities and rescue centers nationwide to collect blood samples from vagrant children. Their DNA information will be recorded and checked against the national DNA database to see if these could be matched with that of missing children's parents', in case they were kidnapped or stolen by criminals.

The eight government departments will start a year-long national campaign in 2012, aiming to return street children to their homes, which will be led by the MCA.

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