PRESENTED with images of a filthy house, strewn with festering rubbish that Girne Municipality teams had to go in and clear out, the initial reaction may be one of disgust.
But on learning that this fetid dwelling had been home to two – nearly three – children living alone, that reaction turns to pure horror.
The case of these unfortunate youngsters, damaged before their lives have barely begun, raises questions that no amount of house-cleaning can polish away.
How could these children – one just into her teens and already pregnant for the second time -- have ended up fending for themselves?
How is it, that in the midst of a bustling, modern tourist town, it took so long for this appalling situation to be noticed, reported and acted upon?
Where were the family, and failing them, the children's services, local authorities, central government, even charities, after this girl became pregnant the first time, let alone the second, and found herself having to cope alone in unimaginable squalor?
In this day and age, in a welfare state, how could these innocents have flown under the radar for so long, such that their plight smacks more of Dickensian misery than 21st century living?
Sharing with Ankara the legacy of Atatürk, the TRNC prides itself on its care for children, but in this case, two youngsters – nearly three – have been badly let down. And who knows whether there are other victims of similar neglect that has yet to be exposed.
The youngsters at the centre of this drama are now being cared for, and we can only hope that the resilience of the young will help them to recover from their dreadful start in life.
Meanwhile the authorities and all concerned with children's welfare need to take a long, hard look at the failures that led to this point, and tackle the shortcomings revealed.
This grubby affair must not simply be swept under the carpet.
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