A daylong consultative forum that discussed children's rights and measures to protect them from abuse was held recently at TANGO office in Kanifing by child protection advocates and other stakeholders.
The forum was facilitated by the Centre for Street and Child Trafficking Studies (CSCACTS), in partnership with the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), CEDAG, and the Gambia Department of Social Welfare with funding from the International Social Services Swiss Foundation (ISS).
Speaking at the ceremony, the Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Madam Fanta Bai Secka, said: "The West African Programme (PAO) aims at reintegrating vulnerable children moving across borders, forced or voluntarily. PAO not only aims at ‘rescuing them’ but also at offering them prospects for their future through social and professional reintegration, and The Gambia is the first English-speaking country to participate in protecting children on the move in West Africa together with Burkina Faso, Cote D Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal."
Madam Secka said the transnational network is led by a steering committee where all the ministries of child protection regularly meet and discuss the programmes, progress and the way forward.
"This contributes to building a common vision and to developing adequate measures for protecting vulnerable children across the borders in West Africa," she said, adding that in The Gambia, as well as elsewhere, the social welfare department alone “cannot protect children in the country” but would always do it in concert with the police and the immigration.
For his part, Lioyd London, a board member of the organization,said the key of a constitutional network is not only for the resolution of each individual cases, but also its sustainability of a child protection system in the region, carried out to protect children vulnerable to food, sexual and other abuses.
Key things that activate and provide support to developing children through sensitization include the media, human resource, and research, Mr London said.