|© Finnish Committee for UNICEF|
|UNICEF National Ambassador Jyrki Linnankivi (Jyrki 69) visited Nicaragua in January 2013. Mr. Linnankivi visited programmes that reach out to child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.|
Finnish rock star and UNICEF National Ambassador Jyrki Linnankivi recently visited Nicaragua to observe programmes that aim to protect and care for young victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua, 29 January 2013 – Finnish rock star and UNICEF National Ambassador Jyrki Linnankivi recently concluded a trip to Nicaragua during which he had visited programmes for prevention of the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.
Mr. Linnankivi – Jyrky 69 – has been lead singer of Finnish rock band The 69 Eyes for more than two decades. He was named UNICEF Ambassador for Finland in 2005 and has focused on the fight against child trafficking and HIV/AIDS.
Developing life skills, making better decisions
UNICEF is carrying out the programmes in conjunction with the Government of Nicaragua and local counterparts in the cities of Managua, Granada, Bluefields and Pearl Lagoon.
Mr. Linnankivi met with adolescent victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in Granada, encouraging them to keep on going and trust in the future. He also visited the municipality of Pearl Lagoon in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region. He was met there by adolescents from the Club of Promoters organized by the Nicaraguan NGO Christian Medical Action. They told him about how their lives had changed since they became involved in the programme.
“We used to be shy,” said one of the children. “We were afraid of expressing ourselves, of saying what we were thinking. But now we’ve developed life skills.” The adolescents meet periodically to share information, their interests and concerns, and to learn about their rights and develop group self-protection mechanisms.
“There are a lot of problems in our community related to alcoholism and drug use, risky sexual intercourse and violence. But we are informed and can therefore make better decisions,” explained another child.
Great power in children
Mr. Linnankivi’s visit was the first occasion that a National Ambassador had been received in Nicaragua. He said that he felt proud to have had the opportunity to advocate on behalf of children and adolescents. “Nicaragua has a great power in its children, adolescents and young people, because they form the majority in the country... I’ve seen the work that UNICEF is doing alongside the government and local organizations in difficult situations. But I’ve also seen positive things. My image of Nicaragua now is of happy faces and smiling eyes,” he said, during a press conference.
UNICEF Representative in Nicaragua Philippe Barragne-Bigot discussed plans for the next few years: “We’re going to do everything possible to continue supporting the country to improve the situation of children. Let’s hope that in five years or so Nicaragua can graduate in comprehensive compliance with children’s rights. Then UNICEF would be here as a National Committee to provide technical assistance.”
On returning to Finland, Mr. Linnankivi will host a press conference and share his experience with Finnish media. He will transmit a message to the people of Finland and other European countries on Nicaragua’s advances in complying with child and adolescent rights, the challenges still pending and the possibility of collaborating to reduce existing gaps.
In 2013, UNICEF Nicaragua is initiating a new Cooperation Programme that will last until 2017, including actions linked to the prevention of violence and the protection of children and adolescents. Employing an equity-based approach, UNICEF has identified municipalities with higher rates of poverty and inequality located in the country’s northern regions and North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions.