UNICEF Calls for Renewed Commitments Towards Child Protection

UNICEF Calls for Renewed Commitments Towards Child Protection

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The UNICEF Country Representative in The Gambia has called on [African] governments and stakeholders to renew their commitments towards child protection, especially those in conflict and crises regions.

Sara Beysolow Nyanti was speaking recently at this year’s commemoration of the Day of the African Child held in Mayork, West Coast Region. The event was held on the theme, “Conflict and crisis in Africa: Protecting all children’s rights”.

Delivering a statement on her behalf, Sally Sadie Singhateh, UNICEF Communication Specialist, said this year’s theme falls in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, in Article 38 calls on all state parties to take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflict.

She however reminded the gathering that the commemoration of this day is not only to deliver speeches, but also reflect on the Soweto massacre of school children 40 years ago for demanding their rights by protesting against apartheid-inspired education.

“It also serves as an opportunity for governments, development partners and child-rights advocates in Africa to consolidate their efforts in bridging the gaps related to the rights of all children,” she added.

She cited the 2011 UNHCR figures, which indicated that over 11,000 refugees from the sporadic conflicts in Cassamance many of whom are children, have been driven across the border into The Gambia, most of whom, she noted, have now resided in the Fonis, West Coast Region.

“Children in Africa are adversely affected with 3 out of 10 living in conflict areas. Violence caused by Boko Haram uprising in several African countries including Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon is responsible for the displacement of about 1.3 million children and there are many other related issues across Africa that are affecting the lives of our innocent children,” she said.

Madam Singhateh commended The Gambia Government and other development and humanitarian organisations for providing support to affected children especially those in emergency.

James Pimundu, National Director, ChildFund The Gambia, noted that the situation of conflict is very hazardous as lives of children are always threatened.  He called on all partners to strengthen ties for the interest of the African child as each life counts.

Deputising the West Coast Region Governor, Bakary Saibo Sanneh, Chairman of Brikama Area Council, said Africa’s many conflicts can be eradicated if our stands are stronger.  “We need to fight more for peace and ensure that our children are protected from any given circumstance that will deprive them of their rights; such as access to quality education, food, clothing and shelter,” he concluded.

by Saffiatou Colley