“We need to stop people perpetuating anything other than peace, " said Batunghe Jean Claude, a child participant at the Summit. “We need to work in partnership with our leaders and sensitize other children about peace.”
The Children’s Summit, organized by the Government, with support from UNICEF, has been a landmark event for the children of Rwanda. Held first in 2004, on the 10th commemoration of the 1994 genocide, successive children’s summits have been able to integrate children’s recommendations into the country’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy and the work of the Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
Attending this year’s summit were 416 delegates, aged 10-16, from each sector of Rwanda. Elected by their peers, these children forged on the nation’s capital for three-days to discuss the progress they feel has been achieved for children since 2004, the consequences of a lingering genocide Ideology in the country and how this impacts on their lives.
“We make up 52 per cent of the population,” said a delegation of children at the Summit. “So our views matter. We would like to create anti-crime and anti-genocide clubs both within and outside of our schools. We would like those children who want to learn about the events of 1994 to visit memorial sites and most importantly we would like your help in helping us create tools to build a culture of peace,” they added.
"We believe in building a nation where rights are respected. We also believe in children's rights to participation as key to influence all decisions regarding their wellbeing,” reiterated Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office in charge of Gender and Family Promotion. “Rwanda's children have a voice and their views are valued and incorporated in all government strategies,” she added.
“This is the second time I have had the privilege of attending this summit,” said Joseph Foumbi, UNICEF Representative to Rwanda. “And what impresses me is the thought and diligence with which children have suggested courses of action. I learn something every time I attend this Summit and it is a good practice for those of us in leadership positions to take children’s views into account. After all, we cannot build a world fit for children, unless we integrate their concerns.” he added.
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.
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