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Somalia, 29 November 2012: Somali teenager attends the Pan African Forum on Children to highlight the problems of children in her country

© UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/Mwangi
Habibo Omar Jama from Somalia inside the plenary hall for the Pan African Forum on Children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 29 November 2012 - Thirteen year old Habibo Omar Jama, who lives in displaced person’s camp in Bossasso, North East Somalia, was one of 23 children representing African children at a high level Pan African Forum on Children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week.

The Forum on Children, from 19 - 20 November, looked at the progress being made on children’s rights by African Union member states under the theme ‘Accountability for Investment in Children.’

Habibo and the other children agreed on a joint statement which was read at the Opening Session to all the delegates. They also took part as panelists in a plenary session on inter-generational dialogue, which included an expert from the Namibian Government, UNICEF, Plan International, Humana Africa and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The children’s views were reflected in an outcome document which is expected to be adopted during the Conference of AU Ministers for Social Development and endorsed by the AU Heads of State and Government Summit in January 2013.

© UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/Mwangi
Habibo Omar Jama from Somalia with other child delegates from Ethiopia, Mali, Zambia and the Democratic Repubic of Congo attending the Pan African Forum on Children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The high level meeting was a far cry from Habibo’s everyday life. She lives in a tent with her sister, her brother in law and their two children in a camp for the internally displaced in Bossasso town, far from her parents in Mogadishu.

They often don’t have enough to eat and Habibo, who is illiterate, does not go to school. She is, however, an outspoken critic of female genital mutilation which, she suffered aged six – and has called for united action to put an end to the practise.

Habibo’s hope for the future is shared by children throughout Somalia. “Our dream is that all these problems that affect our lives end soon and that we live with our families, get enough food, good houses, go to school and play with friends without any fear,” she says. “This must happen soon, Insha’Allah.”

Read the statement of Habibo Omar Jama [PDF]



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