Lesotho, 8 September 2010: Don’t forget the children – A renewed call to enact the Children’s Protection and Welfare Bill
UNICEF and civil society call upon parliamentarians to stand by the children by enacting the Children’s Protection and Welfare Bill
Maseru, LESOTHO, 8 September 2010– As the parliament of Lesotho gears up to reopen its gates, UNICEF and civil society join hands in a concerted call to put children first and enact the long awaited Children’s Protection and Welfare (CPW) Bill of 2010.
“We have seen an impressive support from parliamentarians just before parliament went on recess in May. It is important to maintain the momentum and ensure we live up to our promises of making Lesotho a country where children can thrive and realize their rights to health, education, protection, participation and development” says Dr. Ahmed Magan, UNICEF Representative in Lesotho.
The Bill is the outcome of a widely consultative process, initiated in 2001 and supported by government, UNICEF and Save the Children through the Lesotho Law Reform Commission. Since then the Bill has undergone extensive reviews, deliberations, debates, and consultations by Government, UN, civil society partners and children themselves. It is now in the final stages of enactment.
“If we truly believe that children learn from the actions of their parents, guardians, teachers, nurses, communities, Governments and civil society, we must walk the talk. The enactment of the CPW Bill will show the whole nation that our leaders care for children, and as a nation we stand by leaders who stand by their children” says Lineo Tsikoane, Director of the NGO Coalition on the rights of a child (NGOC).
Each day, there are an estimated 62 new HIV infections and 50 deaths due to AIDS in Lesotho, leaving behind a growing legacy of orphans and vulnerable children with little or no protection and guidance. Over 221,400 children are orphans, up from an estimated 180,000 in 2004. “We hold the future of all children in our hands, our children’s wellbeing is vital for our collective survival, they are affected by circumstances over which they had no control and their future will be shaped by the actions we take today” said World Vision’s Country Director in Lesotho, Martin Silutongwe.
Government and its partners have a collective responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of children and to provide for their protection and care in circumstances where parents have not given, or are unlikely or unable to give, that protection and care.
UNICEF and civil society are committed in ensuring all the necessary support for the implementation of the Bill, once it is enacted. “While enactment is crucial, the role of parliamentarians and development partners is vital in influencing and monitoring national budgets and ensuring that sufficient funds are allocated and programmes are in place to effectively implement it. If not, there is a real danger of a very good piece of legislation remaining toothless, while the situation of children continues to deteriorate” says Dr. Magan.
For more information, please contact:
Clelia Barbadoro, UNICEF Lesotho
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