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UNICEF, YPM observe Day of the African Child call for children’s protection

Jun 22, 2011, 1:08 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Young People in the Media on Saturday remembered and honored those children who were killed while participating in an uprising in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 in protest against the inferior quality of their education, and to demand their right to be taught in their own language.

The remembrance, done in the form of a symposium on child rights and issues and a poetry competition, was part of celebrations marking the International Day of the African Child, celebrated on 16th of June each year.

It was held at Unique FM radio station along Garba Jahumpa Road in Bakau New Town.
The day was set aside by the Organization of African Unity now the African Union to remember those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976.

Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot to death; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand were injured.

The day has since served to highlight issues affecting the lives of children and young people around the world.

This year’s theme: “Altogether for Urgent Action in Favour of Street Children” aims to explore the situation of children living and working in the streets, examining their health, education, and protection situation.

Addressing school children shortly after a marchpast from the Post Office junction along

Kairaba Avenue
to Unique FM, where speeches were delivered, was the UNICEF country representative to The Gambia, Mrs. Aichatou Diawara Flambert.

Kairaba Avenue
to Unique FM, where speeches were delivered, was the UNICEF country representative to The Gambia, Mrs. Aichatou Diawara Flambert.

She reminded the gathering that the day allows governments, policy makers, and other principal actors in development, to examine the achievements and gaps made over the past year in securing good health, education, equality, and security for all African children.

In addition, she explained, it creates avenues for all stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights of the Child, CRC, and CEDAW; as well as evaluate achievements made so far in attaining the MDG targets specific to young people and children.

According to her, the day also placed great emphasis on different current issues relating to, and affecting young people living in Africa through an identified theme.

Sheriff Gomez, minister of Youth and Sports, in his statement, underscored the Gambia government’s commitment to the advancement of the cause of children and young people, whom he described as the bedrock of any meaningful development.

He stated that government has domesticated, signed and ratified numerous international instruments in support of children, including the International Convention on Rights of Children.

Abdou Jatta, former President of the Young People in the Media (YPM), who deputized for Ms Fatou Camara, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of YPM, told the gathering that an estimated 30 million street children live in Africa.

He stated that the 2011 observance of this day seeks to contribute to widespread awareness of the dangers street children face, promote the taking of urgent steps to protect them and determine strategies for providing effective child protection and care.

Sheikh Lewis, Director, Centre for Street Children and Child Trafficking Studies, and Fallou Sowe, Deputy Director, Department of Social Welfare, both spoke at the ceremony before making presentations on street children in The Gambia.

Other speakers included Kaddijatou Fofana, President of the Young People in the Media.

The ceremony was graced by the former Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay, and officials from UNICEF Banjul office, among others.