Children living in poverty and denied access to shelter network: welfare group Local government pride is condemning Aids orphans in Henan to a life of extreme poverty, even though central authorities and non-government organisations have allocated funds for the children's welfare. Wang Chongrun , the 49-year-old founder of the Beijing Care Youth Education Research Centre, made the assessment on Monday after spending three weeks in Henan visiting 20 villages plagued by the disease. Mr Wang founded the organisation in February to offer information about 100 or so children orphaned by the disease and to provide links between potential donors and local schools educating the children. Mr Wang said the children were living in destitution. 'I visited 20 villages in Nanyang, Zhumadian and Shangqiu during the last 20 days in December. All the children I met, irrespective of whether they were living with their grandparents or by themselves, were in extreme poverty,' he said. The Ministry of Civil Affairs defines Aids orphans as children who have lost both parents. Excluded from the definition are children who have been abandoned or whose remaining parent is afflicted with the disease. As a result, children with one parent still living cannot get access to accommodation or education provided by the province's network of 20 so-called Sunshine Houses. Mr Wang said: 'In some cases, their remaining parent is also an Aids patient,' he said. 'In other cases, the parent left them with their grandparents and went away to remarry or become a migrant worker.' Mr Wang said the children were aged between eight and 15, lived in unhygienic homes, wore threadbare clothes and did not continue their education beyond primary school. Many teenagers had also left their hometown to find a job in cities, not knowing if they too were HIV positive. Official figures suggest there are about 60,000 Aids orphans, but the number is expected to reach 260,000 in about six years. The United Nations Children's Fund has put the number, including those without one parent, at 70,000 to 80,000 across the mainland. Mr Wang said that although the children were struggling, local county and village governments had rejected offers of support from organisations such as his centre. 'We've talked to local governments countless times. They always reply that there is no need for help. They said the children were well cared for,' he said. Mr Wang said a local government had 'borrowed' children from the education centre funded by his organisation to create a false impression during ministerial inspections of the numbers of children living in the Sunshine Houses. 'In three Sunshine Houses I visited, only one, two and four children were accommodated while dozens of children in their respective villages were denied access. 'Local governments want the operations to cost as little as possible. Such false impressions must be stopped, otherwise the children will not receive any aid.'