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Côte d'Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, First Lady celebrates the Day of the African Child with 500 children

Day of the African Child 2011

© UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire/2011/Gouegnon
The First Lady of Côte d'Ivoire, Dominique Ouattara, is greeted by a child at the celebration of the Day of the African Child 2011 in the city of Abidjan.

The Day of the African Child has been marked on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was initiated by the Organization of African Unity. Here is one in a series of related stories.

By Louis Vigneault

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, 17 June 2011 – The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, Dominique Ouattara, joined more than 500 children from different districts of Abidjan to celebrate the Day of the African Child by playing games and listening to artistic performances.

Welcome festivities

The joyful celebration organized by UNICEF and the Ministry of Family, Women and Children this year comes after children bore a heavy burden in the wake of post-electoral violence.

The day started with the gathering of children in the Koumassi district of the city of Abidjan. UNICEF’s non-governmental partners mobilized street children and child victims of abuse in from different districts to give them an opportunity to celebrate and to voice their wish to leave the street and live with a family.

The participants mingled and played various games to build team spirit and nurture reconciliation after months of inter-community tensions. Pop singer Bamba Amy Sarah, comedian Koro Abou and artistic group Boule de Gum also performed to entertain the children.

© UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire/2011/Gouegnon
UNICEF Representative in Côte d'Ivoire Hervé Ludovic de Lys answers questions from young reporters trained by UNICEF partner Save the Children during the Day of the African Child 2011 celebration in Abidjan.

Presents for all

The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire joined the gathering and interacted with the children. “This year children in Côte d’Ivoire could not celebrate Christmas the right way, so this event is an opportunity to celebrate for children,” she said, just before giving a wrapped present to each child attending the celebration.

A long-time child advocate with her Children of Africa foundation, the First Lady set as a priority tackling child labour in cacao plantations in the country. Over 600,000 children in Côte d’Ivoire are involved in cacao farming, the country’s main export.

UNICEF Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Hervé Ludovic de Lys praised the work of the First Lady and the importance that the new government is giving to children’s rights. “Let’s give children a chance to embrace their destiny and look at a bright future for their rights in Côte d’Ivoire,” said Mr. de Lys.

During the post-electoral crisis, more than 1 million school children were deprived of their right to education. “Despite a return to school, insecurity continues for children on the road between home and school. The place of a child is not on the street, but in school and we have to work to ensure that they can go safely,” added Mr. de Lys.

Child rights and education

Côte d’Ivoire has ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, but the Presidential decree to ratify the two optional protocols has yet to be signed. UNICEF, child rights groups and the Minister of Family, Women and Children, Raymonde Goudou Coffie, pleaded for a swift ratification of the protocols by newly-elected President Alassane Ouattara.



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