Angola: protecting children during the Africa Cup of Nations
Luanda, Angola, 18 December 2009 - As the New Year approaches, football is on the mind of many Angolans.
In a couple of days, from 10-31 January, Angola will host the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament with teams from 16 African countries.
Stadiums have gone up in four major cities, with capacity for 125.000 seated spectators, and the Palanquinha (little Palanca, the Angolan football mascot) is on display everywhere.
Gracing the entrance to Ilha, a popular Luanda strip of clubs and restaurants, is a giant Palanquinha next to an electronic billboard showing the countdown to Africa Cup of Nations – CAN2010.
Much effort has gone into the preparation of CAN2010, and it is not all about football.
Concerned with the risk and danger that such a large-scale event may pose to children, several Government institutions have come together in a joint response to protect children during the tournament, focusing specifically on trafficking, sexual exploitation and HIV.
To ensure control over these issues, several stakeholders have joined forces to do so.
Hotels and restaurants in Angola will adhere to a code of conduct on sexual exploitation and citizens are encouraged to use a Police hotline to denounce underage prostitution.
The Ministry of Tourism, with support from UNICEF, developed this code - currently being transformed into a bill to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers - and trained more than 4,000 hotel workers.
Similarly, in partnership with UNICEF and IOM, immigration officers have been trained to recognize trafficked children and the same hotline is available for denouncing any irregularity.
More than 5,000 CAN volunteers have been trained on HIV counseling. All of these activities are complemented with a communication campaign, focused on the concept of ‘giving the red card’ on trafficking, exploitation and unsafe sex –running throughout CAN2010.
Speaking at a press conference this week, Vice Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Albino da Conceição said "this lead-up to CAN2010 is promising. We have succeeded in placing children and youth as a primary concern during the tournament and there has been good collaboration from all parties. Children must remain an absolute priority, also during CAN."
UNICEF has supported these efforts from the start by signing a memorandum of understanding with COCAN, the national organizing committee behind CAN2010.
Broadly focused on the rights of children, UNICEF has used the agreement as a basis for dialogue and support to the response by Government institutions to keep children safe during the Africa Cup of Nations 2010.
According to Representative of UNICEF Angola, Mr. Koenraad Vanormelingen, "the Africa Cup of Nations is a festive occasion for Angola, but it is also a time where we need to be very alert and support our national partners in their efforts to protect children."
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