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Viet Nam lays foundation for first comprehensive national programme on child protection

Vietnamese children
© UNICEF Viet Nam/2007/Jim Holmes

Ha Noi, 16 March 2011 – While Viet Nam has achieved impressive economic growth and social progress, the country is facing a growing need to protect its children. Over 1.6 million Vietnamese children are currently living in special circumstances as defined by the Law on Child Protection, Care and Education. If other groups of vulnerable children are included in the definition - such as child victims of human trafficking, kidnapping, abuse, violence and injury as well as children living in poor families - the total number of children in special circumstances rises to around 4.3 million, or 18% of the total child population in Viet Nam. To address this situation, on 22 February 2011 the country’s Prime Minister approved Viet Nam’s first National Programme on Child Protection for the period 2011 2015.

The development of the Programme has benefited over the years from consistent efforts from concerned Government agencies at national and sub-national level, as well as from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other international organisations.

“The approval of the National Programme on Child Protection shows the Government’s strong commitment on child protection and care”, says Ms. Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF’s Representative in Viet Nam. “The Programme will contribute to the creation of a safe and friendly environment for children, preventing and eliminating risks that cause harm to children”.

The Programme will provide timely support, recovery and reintegration services for children in special circumstances, including abused and exploited children. Government line ministries, departments and local authorities will develop concrete plans to implement the Programme.

The recent decision of the Prime Minister is an important milestone in the process of developing child protection systems in Viet Nam. The National Programme targets all children, but especially children in special circumstances, abused and exploited children, children and minors (aged 16 to 18) in conflict with the law, and at-risk children. The Programme aims to: reduce the percentage of children in special circumstances to less than 5.5 per cent of the total child population; provide care, recovery and reintegration support to 80 per cent of children in special circumstances; identify and provide early interventions to 70 per cent of at-risk children; and establish child protection service systems in 50 per cent of all provinces and cities across the country by 2015.

The total Programme budget is 90 million US dollars. It will be implemented across the country, focusing more on areas with high numbers of children in need and children at risk, as well as on ethnic minority and disadvantaged areas.

“We applaud the Government for this great decision and its significant budget commitments. We strongly believe that the National Programme on Child Protection will substantially improve care and protection for children in Viet Nam, in particular vulnerable children. Together with the Prime Minister’s recent decison to develop social work as a profession, the National Programme on Child Protection will support the development of comprehensive child protection systems in the coming years,” adds Lotta Sylwander. “The Programme will also contribute to promoting greater social justice and equity. UNICEF will continue to support the Government in its implementation to reduce vulnerability and better protect children from abuse, exploitation, neglect and discrimination.”

Although in recent years Viet Nam has formulated several laws, policies and programmes related to child protection, this was traditionally in response to the needs of specific groups of children, leading to fragmented services and limited impact. With the holistic and systematic approach of the new Programme, Viet Nam will build on a comprehensive child protection system, with a strengthened legal framework, improved services and the development of specialised justice procedures for child victims as well as children in conflict with the law. Obstacles to a protective environment for children, such as limited awareness and skills of state actors and grassroots workers to identify and respond efficiently to cases of child abuse, exploitation and neglect will be addressed, as will the concern of some local authorities that budget resources allocated for child protection to date have not matched the rate of economic growth or the magnitude of child protection needs.

The National Programme on Child Protection will help address the complexity of child protection issues and thus contribute to the long-term economic and social well-being of Viet Nam.







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