By Own Correspondent – The African Committee of Experts on the Right and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) has developed a concept note on the theme of the 21st edition of the Day of the African Child 2011 to guide member states and partners on the objectives and expected outcomes on the theme “All Together for Urgent Actions in Favour of Street Children.”
The Day of the African Child is celebrated on 16 June every year by the African Union, in line with resolution CM/Res.1290 (XL) to commemorate the 1976 massacre of Soweto children, who merely took to the streets to demand their right to racism-free education, in the then apartheid South Africa.
It would be recalled that in 2010, African States celebrated the 20th Day of the African Child under the theme: “Planning and Budgeting for Children’s Welfare: A Collective Responsibility”.
Agnès KABORE/Ouattara, Chairperson of the Committee, in her remarks ahead of the commemoration, revealed: “The celebration of the Day of the African Child gives us an opportunity to mobilise all our efforts towards the welfare of children, who constitute the backbone of our continent’s future.”
She said the Day of the African Child seeks to draw the attention of all actors involved in improving the condition of children on the continent and to unite their efforts to combat the ills that plague the daily lives of children, adding that it is also an occasion for governments, international institutions and communities to deal with the delicate condition of children by organising activities to promote the rights of the child.
“By deciding to lay emphasis this year on a specific category of children, the Committee intends to draw the attention of African societies to the serious threat posed to their stability and cohesion,” said the chairperson.
According to her, the number of street children in the world, though very difficult to assess, is estimated at 120 million (that is, one of every five children, according to ILO and UNICEF studies), out of which 30 millions are in Africa and a majority of which are boys.
“The issue of children living on the streets in African towns is the visible face of large-scale violations of rights which thousands of children suffer,” she said.
She also says there is need to devote the greatest amount of effort and resources to finding appropriate solutions to stem the large-scale abuses of the rights of this category of children.
Concerning political authorities, Mrs Agnes, who alluded the great efforts already made towards children’s welfare, further urged officials at the highest level to include the fight against this phenomenon of street children in national development priorities, as well as any action that favours allocation of significant resources to implementing assistance and rehabilitation programmes for the affected children.
“The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child will make a global assessment of this commemoration and intends to play its role in working with States to ensure better protection for children,” she lamented.
The 2011 African Child Day was aimed among others to propose innovative strategies that are more effective in child protection and care; to take stock of the phenomenon of street children in African States; to analyse current strategies which address children’s needs in a bid to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to reflect on the problems related to data on street children.