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UNICEF Calls for More Investments on Children

Children's Day 2008
© UNICEF Nigeria/2008/Abdulmalik
As Nigerian children celebrate Children's Day this year, they are increasingly faced with difficult situations that threaten the security of their future. There is need for a renewal of commitment towards making Nigeria fit for all her children.

Abuja, May 2008 - As Nigeria marks the Children’s today, UNICEF supports the theme of “A Nigeria Fit for Children; A Call for renewal of Commitment” by calling on a broad range of stakeholders- governments at all levels, the Private Sector, Civil Society organizations, the Media -to unite for Nigerian Children by making practical contributions to their well being and the realization of all their rights as enshrined in the constitution, the Child’s Rights Act, the UBE Act, the Conventions on the Rights and the AU charter on the Rights of African Children.

Nigeria needs to do more to make the country fit for her children. Trafficking of children for the purpose of domestic service, prostitution and other forms of exploitative labour is still is a problem. Estimates indicate there are 15 million children engaged in child labour in Nigeria with 40% of them at the risk of being trafficked both internally and externally.

It is estimated that 90% of the HIV infections occurring in children under the age of 5 years are acquired from infected mothers. Yet, less than 1% of pregnant HIV-positive women receive antiretroviral drugs to prevent the spread of HIV to their babies in Nigeria.

“Everyday, 1,000 Nigerians will contract HIV and another 800 will die of AIDS and related illnesses. A significant percentage of these are children. Children should not watch their parents or loved ones suffer and die. Today in Nigeria 1, 8 million children are orphaned by HIV-AIDS’, Dr.Robert Limlim Acting Representative UNICEF Nigeria said.

In Nigeria, approximately 10 million school age children (primary and secondary) are out of school. Of these, 4.7 million are of primary school age, while 5.3 million are of secondary school age and 62 % of children out of school are girls. In the Northern states, only 49% of primary school age boys and 34% girls attend primary school.

Currently Nigeria contributes 85% of the global burden of wild polio virus at a time when Polio is being “kicked out” of many countries and being eradicated in the world.

The theme of this day calls for strong political, economic and social commitment to eliminate these issues that jeopardize the full realization of children’s rights. We need to ratify the Child Rights Act in the remaining states and set up structures for its implementation. Institutions for achieving a Nigeria fit for its children have to be strengthened and made responsive to the needs of children. The child justice system, the law enforcement agencies require re-orientation and training in handling children and child related matters. The schools should be child friendly to remove child abuse, sexual exploitation and keep children in school and learning achievement enhanced.

Funds from the oil windfall should be set aside for these specific child focus interventions for the future of Nigeria depends on her children.

UNICEF is committed to working with Nigeria to ensure that the country is made fit for all children.

“We commend all steps taken by government to provide the appropriate legal and policy frameworks for the realization of children’s rights in Nigeria. The Child’s Rights Act has been passed at the national and 18 states of the Federation, the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Plan of Action is in place and so many other well meaning action plans and policies, but we need to commit more resources to alleviate the dire situation of Nigerian children” says Dr. Robert Limlim Acting Representative UNICEF Nigeria.

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