First Lady Madame Fatoumatta Bah Barrow Advocates to Protect Children On The Move in The Gambia as ECOWAS Champion

Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is an integral component of protecting their rights to survival, growth and development.

14 August 2018
First Lady with UNICEF Representative and other dignitaries at the launch of the project
UNICEF Gambia/2018/Jack

BANJUL, 16th August 2018 – As recent as 2017, of the almost 6000 Gambian migrants that arrived in Italy by sea, 24 percent were unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). Gambian children represent the highest nationality of children travelling without family members (14.7%). Children moving internally is also significant considering that 25 percent of the Gambian population migrate internally and most of them are 15-29 years old.

“Voices of children on the move in West and Central Africa” reveals a complex set of drivers for migration beyond poverty. It suggests that migration involving children and young people from West and Central Africa is likely to increase due to a confluence of factors including rapid population growth and urbanization, unequitable economic development, weak governance and limited institutional capacity to support the most vulnerable populations.

Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is an integral component of protecting their rights to survival, growth and development. UNICEF in the Gambia advocates and supports the creation of a protective environment for children in partnership with governments and partners.

The Government of The Gambia recognizes the concerning implications of children on the move and have put mechanisms in place to respond adequately and that require strong partnership support from all stakeholders. National child protection systems, protective social practices and children’s own empowerment coupled with good oversight and monitoring are among the elements of a protective environment and enable The Government of the Gambia, communities and families to prevent and respond to violence, exploitation and abuse.                                                                                                                                    

‘‘The protection of children including children on the move is vital to our society and I as First Lady commit to advocating for the protection of children in The Gambia.”- Madame Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, First Lady of The Gambia 

Dr Isatou Touray, Minister of Health and Social Welfare explained that ‘‘migration of adults and even more of children is affecting the very development capacities of The Gambia.  The multiple dangers facing children in illegal migration is an issue that cannot be ignored and the response must involve all stakeholders in a common and coordinated effort.”

The Children on the Move in The Gambia project, part of a Regional effort supported by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID), will be implemented in Central River Region, North Bank Region, and Greater Banjul Area. About 2000 children will be directly sensitized and 150 service providers will benefit from capacity building activities.

The project will contribute to community level case management and awareness raising for behavioural change. It will target returning children, as well as vulnerable children in the targeted areas, including children left behind by migrating parents.

“Whilst many people travel safely to neighbouring cities and countries for work, children making long, perilous journeys across borders and are at risk of exploitation, abuse and neglect - they need to be protected. I am proud that UK aid and UNICEF are working to spread awareness of these risks, to support victims and to protect young people from these potential dangers.” - Sharon Wardle, UK High Commissioner

Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is an integral component of protecting their rights to survival, growth and development.  UNICEF is committed to working with all of our partners in government and other UN agencies as well as throughout civil society and the private sector, to help propel this global movement forward.

Media contacts

Monika Kacprzak
Communication Officer
UNICEF The Gambia
Tel: +220 3303087

About DFID

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for all of us which is firmly in the UK’s national interest. We're ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit. Learn more about DFID here.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

Follow UNICEF The Gambia on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.