Over 40,000 children take part in the first edition of the children's festival in Liberia
Monrovia, Liberia, 21 November 2009 – Over 40,000 children in all parts of Liberia are taking part today in the country’s first Children’s Festival organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Gender and Development and partners to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and to rejoice on the way forward.
"A children's festival is a way to look forward and an opportunity for children to take on leadership and make their country friendly for them to grow up. Let's make Liberia a country where children can play again”, said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
About 8,000 children are expected to converge today to the Samuel K Doe Stadium in the capital city Monrovia for the largest of the events taking place throughout the country. The President of Liberia visited the stadium to meet with the children and thank the nearly 300 volunteers who made the event possible.
“Today is a day for children to witness what adults have committed to them 20 years ago”, said Isabel Crowley, UNICEF Representative in Liberia. “We hope that the children’s festival will become landmark towards making Liberia a beautiful, peaceful and prosperous country for generations to come.”
Activities including music, dance, literary and sports competitions, workshops on arts, photography, careers, life skills, radio, nature, books, films and sports, music and cultural concerts are organized for the whole day to provide a forum for children and young people to express their views, learn and have fun.
Globally, UNICEF is also marking the event by launching its special edition of the flagship publication State of the World’s Children celebrating the anniversary. The document looks at the major achievements of the last 20 years and more precisely of the past 6 years of peace and development in Liberia. Since the end of the 15-year civil war, child mortality has decreased by 40% in the country. Other measures to include children’s rights in the national legal system have been taken such as the Children’s Act adopted by the House of Representatives last February and awaiting the approval of the Senate.
“Children need to find their place in the Liberia law”, added Crowley. “The Children’s Act was adopted by the House of Representatives last February and is now before the Senate. We urge the Upper House to step forward and adopt swiftly this piece of legislation to ensure that no child is left behind by the legal system.”
UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure full realization of children’s rights in the country. However, two thirds of the population lives below the absolute poverty line with less than one US dollar a day and poverty remains the main obstacle.
For more information, please contact:
Fred Odongkara, UNICEF Liberia