NIGER, NIAMEY 16 June 2011 – On the occasion of the Day of the African Child, the government of Niger and UNICEF are pulling their forces together to develop a new child protection system that will ultimately improve the wellbeing of underprivileged children.
Despite efforts made to date, in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, thousands of children continue to be victims of multiple forms of abuse, violence and exploitation. More than 11.000 children live on the streets, roaming the country’s major urban centers. One child out of two is exploited and works; one girl out of two is already married before she is fifteen years old; one girl out of 50 is victim of genital mutilation, all of which endanger children’s physical and mental conditions.
The child protection system will approach vulnerabilities faced by children in a systemic manner and will attempt to move away from punctual, intermittent and short-term solutions.
“We must acknowledge that much still needs to be done to respond to the needs of these children, “ said the Minister of Population, Women’s Promotion and Child Protection, Maikibi Kadidiatou Dandobi. “We must mobilize all means to take actions that are concrete, efficient and of high impact to prevent and eradicate violence against children. A child should be considered in its entirety and who has multidimensional needs that must be catered to.”
The child protection system that will be created, will approach vulnerabilities faced by children in an integrated manner, and will attempt to move away from punctual, intermittent and short-term solutions. Preference will be given to prevention and dialogue with families.
In Niger services providing protection to children are scarce. Currently the response to children’s issues focuses on providing support to selected categories of children including orphans, street children, and child victims of violence, and those in conflict with the law. The majority of personnel in the child protection domain work as volunteers and are in need of reinforcing their capacities. This calls for an adequate allocation of financial resources and the mobilization of partners to support the implementation of this new child protection system.
“The creation of an integrated and multidimensional child protection system will focus on prevention, sensitization of families and the participation of communities. Action must be taken before the child becomes a victim, in conflict with the law, abandoned, raped or exploited,” said UNICEF Representative in Niger Guido Cornale.
The new protection system will be created through a participatory approach involving traditional leaders, community organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations, children themselves and other sectors (such as health, education, justice, communication, social protection), which are key actors in preventing exploitation, violence and abuse against children.
Note for the editor
The Day of the African Child commemorates a 1976 march in Soweto South Africa, when thousands of African school children took to the streets to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand were injured. To honour the memory of those killed and the courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity. The Day also draws attention to the lives of African children today.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For further information, please contact:
Souleymane Issoufou, Secretary General of the Ministry of Population, Women’s Promotion and Child Protection –
Tel. +227 90 32 63 00 ;
Anne Boher, Communication UNICEF Niger –
Tel. +227 96 96 21 59;