UNICEF partners with media to amplify children’s voices in Southern Sudan
November, 2010 - Juba, Southern Sudan - Children’s views dominated the airwaves in Southern Sudan as they used radio dramas, jingles and talk shows to express themselves during the commemoration the 21st anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted 21 years ago on 20th November, sets out rights that children enjoy as human beings and also identifies special rights and protections they require during this vulnerable phase of their lives.
The children interviewed and interacted with the UNICEF Representative in Sudan Nils Kastberg and the Director of Operations for UNICEF Southern Sudan Dr. Yasmin Haque.
Responding to questions from the children on what is being done to promote a protective environment for children in Southern Sudan, Mr. Kastberg emphasised the importance of involving the whole society, the parents, the communities, and the Government. “Parents are responsible to for the wellbeing of their children. The community have to create a protective environment for girls and boys. Every Minister needs to invest more resources in children of Southern Sudan”. Also, he highlighted the need for accountability from Government and service providers to ensure that children’s rights are realised by delivering the services needed.
On her part, Dr. Haque said, the right of a child begins from the mother’s womb- to be nourished and delivered. “As soon as the child is delivered, it’s the responsibility of government to quickly register the child as its new citizen and to henceforth include this child in all its planning, policy and making, and service delivery.
When asked what their greatest needs are, the children unanimously said, “we are children, we deserve to be cared for”When asked what their greatest needs are, the children unanimously said, “we are children, we deserve to be cared for”
12 -year old Juma lost both parents and is living with relatives who can’t provide him food, let alone a chance to go to school. Juma spends his time polishing shoes. The meagre earning is all that he depends on.
In an interview with the children he said, he would like to go to school so long as he can get food when he comes back from school and soap to wash his school clothes when they get dirty. At the moment Juma depends on his shoe polishing business for food and soap.
“It’s a difficult life, I urge other children not to join me”, Juma said. Pointing at himself, Juma added, “We have to look for alternatives to survive instead of going to the road (street)”.
In a live broadcast on the United Nations (UN) Radio, Miraya FM, Dr. Haque called on families and communities to ensure children are accorded a conducive family environment where they are protected and provided with basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.
Dr. Haque further called for renewed efforts to listen to the voices of children, and step up efforts to ensure they go to school and are provided with an environment where children can develop to their full potentials.
By advocating for the protection of children’s rights and helping children to meet their basic needs and expand their opportunities, UNICEF works towards the realization of the rights for every child.