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UNICEF and its partners organize a forum for children and adolescents on the rights of the child

Bujumbura, BURUNDI, June 16th, 2005 – We commemorate on this day, the occasion of the celebration of the Day of the African Child, the events that took place in Soweto, South Africa on June 16th, 1976. We honor the memory and courage of hundreds of girls and boys who participated in a symbolic march to claim their rights to an education of a better quality and in their own language.

The Organization of the African Union was the first to initiate this commemoration in 1991 and ever since then, the Day of the African Child is celebrated all over the world every year in order to respect the rights of the African child and consider her or his needs.

The theme chosen for this year by the "African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child" (ACRWC) relates to the situation of orphans on the continent vis-à-vis our collective responsibility towards them. We want to take this opportunity to provide a forum for all the children of Burundi to express themselves on their situation and on their needs, at a time when Burundi is preparing to establish new democratically elected institutions.

UNICEF in collaboration with its Government partners, the United Nations System, the African Union and non-governmental actors is organizing on June 28th and 29th in Bujumbura, a Forum for Children and Adolescents to discuss the Rights of the Child.

In this period of change and democratic advancement, when free and open discussions are just underway, this Forum offers an opportunity to children for their expression and participation in the issues that concern them.

It is essential to allow these children who represent the Burundi of today and of tomorrow, to express themselves on their situation and to share with us, adults, stakeholders and potential decision-makers, their concerns, their hopes, their demands and their recommendations.

Such a Forum which has already proven to be worthwhile in several countries around the world will assemble hundreds of children aged from 10 to 17 years old from all the provinces of Burundi. Girls and boys representing all categories of children and teenagers, including those in situations of vulnerability, will speak on behalf of all the children of Burundi. Children will express themselves through drawings, drama, and songs. They will in particular share with us a Manifesto that will express their own analysis of the situation and their recommendations for a better future and for a Burundi that is meaningful for children.

Once the new decision-making authorities are in place, we intend to promote the Manifesto prepared by the children attending the Forum, and to help them present their conclusions and recommendations to the newly elected Burundi officials in order to seek their commitment to cater for the specific needs of children and to ensure that their rights are respected and promoted.

We invite you all to join us to promote this major event and to support children by sharing information about this forum with every community. Help us to make this specific event a really vigorous medium for children to participate in open and free discussions and for the promotion of their rights.

For further information, please contact:
Barbara Jamar, Assistant Communication Officer, UNICEF Burundi, + 257 994 717, (bjamar@unicef.org)




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