The West

Film shines light on sewer children s bleak world
Drugs and disease effect all inhabitants of the sqaulid sewer system. All are infected with HIV.

An underground city of orphans, drug users and HIV-positive homeless in Romania is laid bare in a new documentary.

Channel 4 filmmakers spent time in the sewer system underneath the streets of Bucharest capturing a parallel world of destitute outcasts who live in a squalid community. Together they scrape together a bleak existence, comforted by each other and the warmth of the tunnels.

A man climbs in through the entrance to this grim subterreanean underworld. Photo: Channel 4

The Daily Mail reports that filmmakers Paraic O'Brien, Jim Wickens and Radu Ciornicuc entered the underground kingdom with the permission of "Bruce Lee", the streetwise leader so named for his fighting past.

The "sewer children" enter their haven through a hole in the footpath near a train station. Through this portal the filmmakers entered the tunnels originally built by the Ceausescu regime to centrally heat the city.

A man sniffs a metallic paint called Aurolac from a black plastic bag. Photo: Channel 4

Therein lie dogs, drug paraphernalia, glue for sniffing and the community of sewer children.

Bruce Lee is overlord of this world and tells the documentary crew he is providing warmth, shelter and safety for people rejected by the rest of the country.

A man injects a Methadone-like drug from a syringe. Photo: Channel 4

The filmmakers say all the people here are HIV-positive and a quarter have tuberculosis.

Bruce Lee pays protection money to outside gangs and social workers say he tries to protect his young charges from sexual predators.

The documentary will air in Britain tonight.

The West Australian

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