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Tightening national safety nets for children in Africa

Towards stronger national protection systems to reduce abuse and keep children safe

DAKAR, Senegal, 7 May 2012 – From 7 to 9 May 2012, the biggest ever international conference on strengthening child protection systems in Sub-Saharan Africa brings together more than 300 child protection practitioners from across the continent. For the first time, efforts from African countries to develop comprehensive child protection systems and services will be showcased at this three-day interagency event being held in Dakar, Senegal.

"Just the way a health system deals with many diseases, a child protection system addresses a broad range of violations of children’s rights. Children cannot be protected effectively unless social workers, police officers, lawyers and judges, teachers, health workers and communities work together to prevent and respond to abuse and violence. The protection of children has to become everybody’s responsibility," says Joachim Theis, Regional Child Protection Advisor, UNICEF, West and Central Africa

During this unprecedented pan African gathering, hundreds of participants from over 36 countries will have the opportunity to exchange experiences and good practices on how to strengthen services and support to prevent and protect children from exploitation, abuse and violence. Dozens of African countries are engaged in strengthening child protection systems and mobilizing new sectors and capacities for child protection. For example, education and health sectors are involved in violence prevention work, and social protection is becoming an essential part of efforts to reduce child labour and child marriage. Child justice initiatives are being embedded in broader national justice and security reforms and the health sector is supporting birth registration. Mobile technologies are being used for the reporting of violence, family reunification and rapid assessments.

"Investments in national child protection systems lead to better outcomes for children because of children’s improved access to protection services, new investments in frontline workers to identify and respond to children in need; and improved partnerships to mobilize and use resources for children, families and communities. This conference offers a great opportunity to bring together people from across the continent to find out how to make child protection systems work effectively in the African context," Joachim Theis adds.

Among the participants are senior representatives from the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee of Experts on the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Union, country delegations, regional and global child protection experts and donors. The conference is being supported by the Oak Foundation, Plan International, REPSSI, RIATT, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes, the African Child Policy Forum, UNICEF, World Vision and others. Donors are increasingly supporting child protection systems.

Media contact
Laurent Duvillier, Regional Communication Specialist, UNICEF, West and Central Africa, Senegal
Mobile: +221 77 637 66 04 – Email: lduvillier@unicef.org

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