Every child needs protection
In Burundi, many children are victims of, or witnesses of, violence, abuse and exploitation, including hazardous work, human trafficking and gender-based violence. The arrest and detention of children, long pre-trial detentions and limited access to services affect children in conflict with the law. Many children living and working on the street are forcibly removed, and children lacking parental care are often placed in specialized state institutions.
While some progress has been made on advancing children’s rights over the past decade, the following issues continue to affect Burundi’s child protection system:
Birth certificates are the only documents that guarantee access to free health care for children aged under 5, as well as free access to basic education (Grades 1-9), or for children or adolescents to prove their age in case of arrest or detention. However, only 66.2 per cent of registered children aged under-5 receive their birth certificates.
Justice for children:
While investments have been made to build the capacity of the police and judicial authorities, too little progress has been made in implementing child protection laws and policies and in adopting child-friendly practices in law enforcement or judicial system.
Violence against children:
Violence in schools, including cases of sexual abuse by teachers, is one of the underlying causes of girls dropping out of school. The lack of reporting cases participates in the normalization of violence against children.
Exploitation of children:
Although Burundi adopted an Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour (2010-2015) in 2009, child labour and child trafficking are important issues. In 2016, civil society and national and international media reported the transnational trafficking of hundreds of Burundians, mainly girls and women, primarily to the Middle East. Girls and boys are also internally trafficked for domestic work and sexual exploitation.
Children living and working on the street:
The rising numbers of children living in the streets without parental care and the serious challenges this poses to the government, communities and families in their efforts to protect and respond to children’s basic needs. Between January 2017 and June 2018, 2,221 boys and 177 girls were arrested, largely because Government authorities considered that they were susceptible to be recruited by armed groups and therefore represented a security risk.
Child protection data collection and information management:
Burundi has very little disaggregated child protection data and lacks a centralized child protection information management system. Existing data on sexual and gender-based violence are not coherently collected and cannot be used to inform appropriate interventions for children.
UNICEF Burundi’s child protection interventions in the 2019-2023 country programme focus on:
1. Enhancing the national capacity to apply child-friendly and gender-sensitive policies and procedures for child protection and increase evidence on child protection issues, through the review of the legal and institutional framework; development of a new national child protection policy;
UNICEF Burundi works with the Department of Family and Children (DEF) of the Ministry of Social Affairs on strengthening the coordination between institutions to protect girls and boys from the risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. UNICEF Burundi works with the Government to implement the “national minimum standards for children living in institutions or deprived of a family environment” adopted in 2013.
2. Strengthening institutional capacity to deliver quality child protection services at provincial, communal and community levels, including in emergencies.
3. Equipping families and communities to protect their children, especially the most vulnerable, from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, including in emergencies. In order to do so, UNICEF mainly relies on a strong community-based child protection system, through 2,368 Child Protection Committees (CPCs) in 17 of the country’s 18 provinces.
CPCs play a role in organizing local saving groups known as “solidarity groups” (‘Nawe Nuze’ in Kirundi), where members, mainly women and girls, make small contributions to a savings’ fund, which provides members with small credits.
Since 2014, UNICEF Burundi has leveraged environmentally friendly innovation by developing ‘’Projet Lumière’’ (the light project), which uses a micro enterprise model to provide off grid energy supplies to rural households.
Furthermore, to prevent children from coming into conflict with the law, UNICEF Burundi will strengthen methods that are based on conflict prevention and resolution, and help communities further develop their ability to use reconciliation tools to solve conflicts, and scale up community-based reconciliation mechanisms accompanied by increased participation of children, families and communities in conflict prevention and resolution.
Publications, surveys, reports will be added in this section.