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Child Protection in Emergencies Training

© UNICEF Pacific/2014/LSavu
Tonga, Palau, FSM, RMI participants with the UNICEF Representative Karen Allen and the UNICEF Child Protection team

Koror, 13 November 2014 – Recognising the frequency and severity of natural disasters in the Pacific, as well as the special vulnerability of our children, Government and civil society staff from Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands and Kingdom of Tonga participated in a training in Koror on child protection in emergencies.  Three specialised staff from UNICEF and one staff from UN Women facilitated the training, using materials from a global training package, and drawing on their experiences in different countries. The participants also contributed their valuable knowledge and experience and ideas from each of their countries. 

The UNICEF Pacific Representative along with Government of Palau opened and closed the training. During the opening, The UNICEF Representative, Karen Allen, said, “Children of course are particularly vulnerable, though some people assume if you help the parents, caregivers, service providers, then children’s needs will be automatically taken care of.  Sometimes it is true, but we know that children need to be particularly considered and targeted in assessments, in contingency planning, in funding, in immediate response, and during recovery periods. Children’s parents, other caregivers, teachers, police, health care givers, community and welfare workers, may be overwhelmed and need additional resources and reminders to specifically help children in an emergency.” In opening, Pricilla Subris from NEMO Palau reinforced “the need for an investment in preparedness and the urgency of putting children in the center of this especially in the Pacific region which has experienced multiple extreme weather events”.

The training focused on various child protection responses in emergency settings and learned that child protection can also be lifesaving together with other responses such as food, shelter, medicine, water, hygiene and sanitation responses.  Even if humanitarian actors come together in responding to physical needs, a child affected by her or his own or a family member’s or friend’s injury or death; loss of home or school; or by any kind of scary incident or threat, is a child who will find great difficulties in returning to school and leading a normal life. The psychological scars may take longer to heal than for example, re-building a home but it’s essential that affected communities contribute to recovery efforts. This was recognized by participants from Tonga who shared an example of how they targeted affected youth with psychosocial support in responding to tropical cyclone Ian in January 2014. Rev Fili Lilo from Tonga explained that ‘Youth and young people are affected uniquely by emergencies but can also be a strong carrier of support to other members of the community and should be included in response right from the beginning”.

UNICEF’s mandate in emergencies is to support Government and civil society to uphold international humanitarian standards for children. The participants were introduced to the recently published standards for child protection responses in emergencies which outline key standards and indicators in preparedness, response and early recovery. These standards can support government agencies responsible for disaster response to improve the quality of their responses and preparedness plans.   The workshop stressed the importance of consulting children about their needs and how well they are being met through various examples of the value added, insights gained, by talking to children before and during emergencies. 

The training stressed the need for effective preparation response and early recovery is part of a continuum. Emergency planning, response and recovery work should be closely linked with regular development and capacity work. Strong regular systems are also effective in reducing risks in emergencies, and good planning, response and recovery work can, if designed in a way that it strengthens the regular systems. ‘The workshop provided us with tools that will support us in preparing a good quality preparedness, response and recovery programme” said Carline Jarom from the Marshall islands. At the end of the workshop, all participants came up with their country commitments in a child protection declaration.

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 visit: unicefpacific.org

For further information, please contact:

Donna Hoerder, Tel: +679 3236 100 dhoerder@unicef.org

 

 

 
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