Saturday, June 18, 2011

Street children a reminder of leaders’ failure - UNICEF

Street children a reminder of leaders’ failure - UNICEF
By Mwala Kalaluka in Mansa
Sat 18 June 2011, 04:01 CAT

THE United Nations says street children are a reminder that duty bearers of children's rights are failing to fulfil the rights of all children under the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

And the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development says the problem of streetism cannot be addressed by a single institution. Meanwhile, a Mansa child says poverty, lack of role models and unemployment are among the many issues that affect the positive development of the Zambian child.

During the commemoration of the Day of the African Child at Mansa's Don Bosco Youth Centre yesterday, UNICEF country representative Dr Iyorlumun Uhaa said matters of children were close to his agency's heart.

He said it was commendable that the government held this year's commemoration, which is being held under the theme 'All together for urgent action in favour of street children', in Mansa.

"Today we remember the events of the morning of 16 June, 1976 when children of Soweto were killed for protesting over the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium language of instruction in local schools," Dr Uhaa said. "But the Day of the African Child is more than just a commemoration.

This day seeks to draw the attention of all involved in improving the condition of children in Africa and to unite efforts to combat the ills that plague the daily lives of children."
He said children on the country's streets should be a reminder that they were there because of poverty, abuse and violence.

"Children on the streets are a reminder to us that we as duty bearers of children's rights, whether it be the government, the United Nations, communities, or families, are failing to fulfil the rights of all children under the Convention of the Rights of the Child," Dr Uhaa said.

"The Convention is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and it guarantees four main rights of children, namely: the right to survival, the right to protection, the right to development, and the right to participation."
Dr Uhaa said children living on the streets were vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse.

"They are at risk of sexual violence and being forced into sexual exploitation including prostitution. Children on the streets lack access to services that other children enjoy," he said. "As a result, children on the streets often have poor health conditions, lack proper nutrition essential for growth and development and are not attending school."

Dr Uhaa said street kids were also vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse apart from being exposed to high levels of stress and emotional trauma.

And sport, youth and child development permanent secretary Teddy Mulonga said in his remarks at the event that was attended by school pupils from several Mansa schools that this year's commemoration of the African Child's Day comes when the country was grappling with the challenge of streetism.

Meanwhile, Choolwe Munyumbwe, a Mansa child who read out the children's resolutions arising from a number of Focus Group Discussions held countrywide prior to Thursday's commemoration, said the children pledged full participation in governance and developmental issues that concern them.

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