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Mozambique, 27 August 2013: UNICEF Mozambique statement on child abuse in Inhambane orphanage

MAPUTO, 27 August 2013 -UNICEF is following up with local authorities on the serious acts of abuse and neglect in the Estrela do Mar Orphanage in the province of Inhambane. We are providing full support to the Government of Mozambique in the investigation of this case and are confident that the perpetuators of the crime will be brought to justice. We are also working with authorities to ensure respect of standards of institutional care and to avoid repetition of this unfortunate event.

In Mozambique, 1.8 million children are orphaned and vulnerable, of which more than 600 thousand are orphaned by HIV and AIDS. Most of these children live in families in vulnerable situations. However, 15 thousand children remain indefinitely placed in institutional care, most of which lacks the minimum standards of care, hygiene and safety.

The Government of Mozambique, through the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs and the Judiciary, has mapped and monitored these centers, with the support of UNICEF and partners. Such supervision is in place to ensure that the admission of children remains temporary, while foster families are sought.

However, inspection and the search for foster families need to be strengthened, and more children need to be placed with families sooner. Continuous collaboration needs to be maintained between social services and the courts in cases where it is impossible to re-establish family ties, so as to ensure placement of children in alternative care families and to avoid institutionalization.

UNICEF reiterates its support to the relevant authorities and civil society partners in the monitoring and inspection of centers and orphanages nationwide to ensure minimum standards of care, hygiene and safety, as well as the expansion of placement referrals to include guardianship, adoption and foster care. Placement in centers must therefore remain temporary, exclude children below the age of 3, and only considered as a last resort.

For further information, please contact:

Patricia Nakell, UNICEF Mozambique
Tel: +258 82 312 1820; Email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique
Tel. (+258) 21 481 100; Email:



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