AS Nigeria commemorated Children’s Day across the nation, coinciding with the meeting of G7 Heads of Government in Sicily, Italy, Toyin Saraki, wife of the president of the Senate and founder, Wellbeing Foundation Africa has urged federal and state governments and stake holders to strengthen and scale-up the implementation of child protection policies across Nigeria, stressing the key functions and capacities of child protection networks in the 36 states of the federation.
Charting a progress timeline of Child Rights legislation and implementation across Nigeria, Mrs Saraki stated: “Seven years ago, in May 2010, after successfully advocating for the passage of the Kwara State Child Rights Act, the first of Nigeria’s 19 northern states to pass this landmark legislation, I summoned the courage to convene and host Nigeria’s first National Child Rights Conference, “Child Rights At Crossroads” at Ilorin, Kwara State.
Supported by the UNICEF Nigeria, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa gathered together stakeholders from across the nation to advocate for the domestication and passage of the Child Rights Act, and to catalyse the establishment of child rights implementation committees and child protection networks in every state of the nation.
“Since then, we have seen increased interventions to promote and protect children and keep them safe. But we have also seen an alarming increase in reported cases of violence, sexual violence, and even rape, against children.
“UNICEF Nigeria states today that ‘One in four girls and one in 10 boys experience sexual violence as well as one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence by a parent, caregiver or adult relative.
“Let us always remember that #AChildIsAChild and take action to end can end violence against children in Nigeria, and everywhere, now,” she said.
Continuing to highlight the plight of displaced and vulnerable children globally, Toyin Saraki, a supporter of UNICEF’s A Child Is A Child global advocacy campaign, called for governments and world leaders to provide displaced children with health-enhanced certifiable identity documents, in a call to action stating: “As G7 leaders meet in Sicily Italy today and tomorrow, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa urges the leaders to protect the rights of displaced and vulnerable children seeking refuge and safety around the world. The protection of unaccompanied minors and children is the right of every child, no matter their place of birth.”
“As the new UNICEF report, A Child is a Child, points out, the world has seen almost a five-fold increase in the number of refugee and migrant children travelling alone since 2010. And even when they travel with their families, they face several terrible risks and often fall through the cracks.”
“The Wellbeing Foundation Africa calls upon the G7 leaders to ensure the rights of children who have been uprooted from their homes due to poverty and atrocities. These children, like every other child, deserve the right to safer and secure lives and futures. The Wellbeing
Foundation Africa believes that countries have the right to intensify national security and protect their borders during global uncertainty, but this can also coincide with protecting the rights of displaced children by providing each child with a certifiable identity. When each
migrant and refugee child is given a certifiable identity, it will bring two-folds of great results. It will allow the child to be visible on governmental systems which will allow the host nations to build stronger and resilient national security systems, and it will provide also the child the right to seek out health and education services at their host country.”
“The Wellbeing Foundation Africa urges governments of the G7 countries to act on the following agenda:
- Protect child refugees and migrants, particularly unaccompanied
children, from exploitation and violence.
- End the detention of children seeking refugee status or migrating by
finding practical alternatives.
- Keep families together as the best way to protect children, and give
children legal status.
- Keep all refugee and migrant children learning and give them access to
health and other quality services.
- Press for action on the underlying causes of large-scale movements of
refugees and migrants.
- Promote measures to combat xenophobia, discrimination, and marginalization in countries of transit and destination”
“When world leaders adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016, they acknowledged the urgent and unmet needs of vulnerable child migrants. It is time to act and deliver on this promise.”
— May 29, 2017 @ 11:30 GMT