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UNICEF welcomes signing of Children’s Act into law in South Africa

CAPE TOWN,  8 April 2008 -UNICEF today welcomed the signing of the Children’s Amendment Act by the President of the Republic of South Africa, calling it a major step in improving the protective environment for the country’s children.

This Children’s Act emphasizes the State’s role in strengthening the capacity of families and communities to care for and protect children.  It dramatically departs from conventional forms of child protection legislation where the State only intervenes after a child has already suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation. The Act also stipulates protective measures for children deprived of family care to receive care and support through alternative, foster care or in child and youth care centres. 

Welcoming the signing of the Act into law, UNICEF Country Representative, Macharia Kamau, commended South Africa for its leadership role in crafting legislation and policies that preserve and protect the well-being of children. 

“South Africa’s Children’s Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that is in line with provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and contributes to the  fulfilment of the country’s own constitutional commitments to realize children’s right to access social services,” Kamau said. “UNICEF is pleased with the developmental approach adopted in the Act.”

UNICEF stressed, that major implementation challenges remain in adapting the Act into concrete actions to improve the care and protection of South Africa’s children.  Foremost amongst these, the State will need to ensure adequate and better targeted budgetary allocations at national and provincial levels. 

UNICEF recognises the need for improved cooperation between sectors of government – Social Development, Health, Education, Safety and Security, and Justice.

“Resources are lost due to poor inter-sectoral cooperation, and inefficiencies in the effective delivery of services to children at provincial and municipal levels," Kamau said.

The role of non-governmental and community based organizations in the delivery of services to children is of vital importance. This ongoing collaboration should be better financed and supported.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and from HIV and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further media information please contact:
Yvonne Duncan, UNICEF South Africa, Tel + 27-82-561-3970, Email: yduncan@unicef.org
Stephen Blight, UNICEF South Africa, Tel + 0794994303;  Email: sblight@unicef.org




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