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In Sierra Leone, children demand more commitments to their welfare

UNICEF/Sierra Leone/2009/Roiha
© UNICEF/Sierra Leone/2009/Davies
Acrobatic children from "CRC" to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child.

Freetown, Sierra Leone, 19th November 2009 – “Government is making frantic efforts to ensure that children’s rights are protected, maternal mortality rates are reduced and the endemic problem of children dying before the age of 5 is curtailed significantly, said the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana as he echoed the Government of Sierra Leone’s commitments to children’s issues in the country at the national launch of the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) in Freetown.

UNICEF is collaborating with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and other child focused organizations in organizing series of activities, including a national launch, public fora, inter-school dramas, photo and child rights materials exhibition, etc. to commemorate this anniversary in every district in Sierra Leone. The national theme is: invest in children for national development. 

Over 500 children processed through the streets of Freetown and eventually converged at the Victoria Park and presented messages on issues that affect their welfare by calling on the government and other stakeholders to deepen their commitments to children.

A call to invest in children
“We call on Parliament to be committed towards investment in children by allocating more money to our health, education, and protection and even more important, we call on you, Mr. Speaker and honourable members to take your oversight responsibilities very seriously!” exclaimed Mariama, 15, as she delivered the petition of the Children’s Forum Network (CFN) to the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Abel Stronge and other members at the forecourt of parliament.

“We also call on you to use your power of the purse, legislation and policy oversight to invest more in social protections of the children and we implore you to do your utmost to eliminate all forms of violence against the children of this country”.

The CFN is an umbrella group of children in the country that was established in 2001 to advocate for children’s rights, protection and participation.

"So that we can contribute!"
“When I was leaving my house this morning, I heard the cry of a woman for the death of her two-year-old child from malaria”, said Sulaiman, 18, the national president of the CFN at the national launch. “Even as I speak to you now, four people are dying of malaria every hour; two of whom are children under the age of five. We need action now so that we can live healthily and contribute to national development!”

Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana led other government ministers and officials to make their commitments to children by signing on the CRC national fabric that was placed against a wall. 

The occasion was characterized with fanfare from the Artists United for Peace, the cultural display from the National Dance Troupe and children’s drama and acrobatic demonstration of the CRC.

By Issa Davies



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