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UNICEF Commemorates Universal Children’s Day with call to protect children from violence

Kigali, 20 November 2011 – On the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF today joined with the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children in issuing a call to protect children from violence.

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is a movement that harnesses the powerful role of religious communities in keeping children safer by promoting affirmative measures such as positive parenting and discouraging potentially harmful practices against children.

While significant progress has been made in reducing child mortality and increasing child health, around the world, millions of children around the world are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse.

In Rwanda, although no numbers exist on the extent of children affected by abuse, statistics from one police hospital in Kigali reveal that 65% of registered survivors of violence are girls under the age of 18.

To tackle this problem, the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion recently organised a national conference and campaign to end violence against children in October this year. This campaign, launched in partnership with the Imbuto Foundation, MTN, UNICEF and other partners, calls on parents and care givers across the country to end violence against children and promote positive discipline.

Parental influence and protection pay a critical role in determining a child’s well-being and can be done without resorting to violent discipline, which harms the child and is not effective.

“To end such violence, we need to work together – across religious faiths, across political parties, across all boundaries – to raise awareness, to reach out in our communities, and to strengthen systems that protect children, said UNICEF’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake. “Let it begin with a prayer and end in action.”

To commemorate this day in Rwanda, Rwanda’s national broadcaster, ORINFOR, plans to organise magazine programmes, while the Rwanda Interfaith Network will hold prayers. A group of over 1600 youth leaders will also participate in training programmes with Interfaith in Kabgayi (near Gitarama).

The World Day of Prayer and Action was launched in 2008 to improve the lives of children everywhere. In 2010, the World Day was celebrated in 46 countries around the world.

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