UN Secretary-General visits a child protection centre in Gabon
Mr. Ban Ki Moon, with two teenagers in the crafts center aimed at developing creativity in children in difficult situation. The young Prince, 13, explains how to use the tools.
Libreville, Gabon, 1 July 2010 – On a recent trip to Gabon, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with children living in a child protection centre supported by UNICEF in Angondgé a neighborhood of Libreville, the capital of Gabon.
The Angondjé centre accommodates children from 0 to 18 years in vulnerable situation whatever are their nationalities, religions and gender.
Children come in the centre for many reasons. As stressed by the Director of the center Mr Renombo, "Emma and Jo aged 2 and 5 years Gabonese are here because their mother died, Patricia, Gabonese is in the centre because her father could not find any employment after he left the prison. Amy a Congolese of 12 years is accused of sorcery while Mady a Malian of 13 years is a victim of early marriage. Uché, Nigerian 14 years has been sexually abused."
A second chance to children
The centre offers the children shelter, education, health, care, psychosocial support that are all necessary for the development of skills such self consideration and confidence.
The ultimate goal of the center is to achieve the reinsertion of each child into their families in Gabon or in the sub region countries and even beyond.
For those who are orphan or can no longer reintegrate their original families, the option is the placement in families that accept to welcome the children and sometimes to adopt them legally.
Every month at least 4 children leave the centre and start a new life.
Angondjé is one out of the 4 centers of Gabon providing protection to children.
Since 2007 to 2010, with UNICEF support 550 children victims of traffic benefited from care and were able to rejoin their families in the countries of the region while 67 have been reinserted into their families in Gabon.
The General Secretary highlighted: “the difference you make to each child’s life is incalculable. You are giving them a second chance”.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre), Minister of Health, Social Affairs, National Solidarity and the Family Alphonsine Mbie Na and UNICEF Deputy Representative in Gabon Dr. Speciose Hakizimana visit children at the Angondjé child-protection centre.
Great hope for the future
Child traffic and abuse is a sad reality for many children in Libreville, Port Gentil, Franceville, Moanda, Tchibanga or Mouila, the main cities that concentrate more than 80% of the inhabitants of the whole country.
Addressing the issue of child traffic and abuse is a very complex matter requiring partnership and engagement of several counterparts.
In fact, Angondjé center is one element of the long chain of actors intervening in the resolution of child traffic and abuse.
The mains actors are: Health and Social Affairs, justice, police through the UNICEF supported initiative: "Police amie des enfants", NGOs, Faith-based organization.
Mr. Ban said "Projects like this for the children show the results that can be achieved through partnership between the state, civil society, private businesses, religious institutions and the United Nations - in this case through UNICEF."
At the end of his visit in the centre Mr Ban declared "Every one – government, business, civil society, the police – must play their part in creating and implementing laws to protect children. A society is judged by its treatment of its weakest and most vulnerable members. What I have seen here today is a sign of great hope for the future".
Just before leaving the centre he was asked to write some worlds in the golden book of the centre.
Here are the worlds he wrote: "I am impressed about what I have seen in this child protection centre.
I acknowledge all donors that are providing their support." Along with UNICEF, UK and Spanish national committees are the main donors supporting child protection centers in Gabon.
More financial resources are required to rescue more children and fight efficiently against child traffic and abuse in Gabon.
By Omar Habib