PRETORIA, 1 June 2010 - With 10 days to go till the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, UNICEF today launched a comprehensive campaign aimed at enhancing child protection and helping to ensure children’s safety as they enjoy the global football spectacular either in their own communities or on visits to any of four free FIFA Fan Fests where the children’s organisation has established Child-friendly Spaces.
The child protection initiative was developed in cooperation with the South Africa’s Department of Social Development together with Child Welfare South Africa and other civil society partners who are experts in delivery of protection services to children.
“UNICEF is grateful to FIFA for this valuable opportunity to extend a hand through four childfriendly spaces to reduce children’s vulnerability during the global sporting event,” said UNICEF South Africa Representative Aida Girma. “The child-friendly spaces will provide safe, supervised environments where social workers, child and youth care workers and trained volunteers will be on hand to support identified children who are in need of child protection services or emergency care, while watching the matches on television screens and enjoying child-appropriate activities in the child-friendly space.”
As many as 15,000 to 45,000 fans are expected to visit the different FIFA Fan Fests each day during opening hours from 10h00 to the end of that evening’s entertainment. Anticipating that children will be among them, UNICEF will establish the child friendly spaces at Soweto, Sandton, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit FIFA Fan Fests. In addition, UNICEF through Child Welfare South Africa and other civil society partners will be offering parents the option of voluntarily tagging their children and themselves with numbered wristbands at the FIFA Fan Fest entrance gates in case children get lost and reunification services are needed.
Social Workers Trained in all Nine Provinces
UNICEF has partnered with the Department of Social Development to support the training of social workers and child protection professionals in all nine provinces in protection and safety procedures and protocols. This will enable them to intervene in the lives of vulnerable children and take the most appropriate social service steps that would contribute to children‘s optimal well-being.
“Ultimately, this training will not only enhance the country’s ability to respond to child abuse and exploitation during the FIFA World Cup period, but also strengthen the country’s child protection system into the future as a lasting legacy of the FIFA World Cup”, Ms. Girma said "And we hope to learn much from this pilot experience so that we can share our knowledge with other countries that will host major sporting events like this in the future,”
Red Card Campaign targets millions with child safety messages
A key component action of UNICEF’s programme will be a Red Card communication campaign, drawing on the universal football warning symbol of the red card given to players who severely violate the rules of the game, and are disqualified from further participation. By using this symbol, the campaign sends out a message that child abuse and exploitation have no place in South Africa and during the heightened sports season.
Targeted to children, communities and visitors to South Africa, the campaign comprises widespread outreach activities using digital, print and electronic communication materials, advertorials and point of purchase items and signage to advocate against child abuse and exploitation, child sex tourism and trafficking. The Red card campaign is expected to reach millions of people in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
Ms. Girma explained that some of the material is specifically aimed at children and includes tips and information on how they can protect themselves from abuse, exploitation and trafficking at any time and place. Toll free emergency telephone numbers of the South African Police Services and Childline are printed on all items, should anyone need help or wish to report an incident of child abuse.
UNICEF’s key partner in reaching tourists via the red card campaign, Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), will distribute leaflets and posters in the hospitality and through major travel industry that have agreed to participate in making visitors aware of the South Africa’s stance against child abuse, child labour, and child sex tourism.
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa and tourism industry players has announced a call to action to adopt and sign the International Code against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism. FTTSA will launch the Code in South Africa on 8 June.
According to Jennifer Seif, FTTSA Executive Director, leading hotel groups, car hire companies and other tourism businesses in South Africa are ready to play their part to protect children at risk of exploitation.
In addition, UNICEF supports is supporting an anti human trafficking campaign organized by the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) , which will be launched on 24 May as part of Tsiriledzani, a joint government sponsored initiative to draw attention to human trafficking.
Community Sports Festivals
UNICEF also announced a series of 21 football festivals to be held in school communities in all nine provinces from 10 June 10 to 11 July, when the country’s schools will be closed to allow children and families to join in the football celebration by participating in sport activities in their own communities.
The community sports festivals are a key component of UNICEF’s ongoing Sport for Development programme which focus on developing life skills and building children’s cognitive, social and physical abilities through sport. They also provide a platform to inform children of their rights and of ways to protect themselves from possible exploitation and abuse.
‘UNICEF encourages all South Africans, especially children, to share in the fun and excitement generated by the FIFA World Cup by participating in sport activities within their own communities,’ Ms Girma said.
“UNICEF is inspired by the support and enthusiasm we received from the South African Government and our other partners in the planning of this programme. It demonstrates their solid commitment to making children’s well-being a priority. We are looking forward to working with them to improve access to quality child care support in South Africa.”
For additional information, please contact UNICEF South Africa: