Day of the African child: Protecting children’s rights in conflicts and crisis in Africa

Niger girl

Niger girl (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

‘With forty per cent of Africans aged 14 or younger, Africa is officially the fastest growing continent in the world.  Sadly, it is also the most conflict-prone region with three out of 10 African children living in fragile, conflict-affected regions or countries, and an estimated 12 million children internally displaced throughout the continent.

‘In South Sudan alone, 750,000 children were internally displaced, 320,000 registered as child refugees, hundreds were killed, and more than 12,000 recruited and used by the government and opposition forces as child soldiers in armed conflict during 2014.

“The trauma associated with witnessing acts of violence can have lifelong consequences, especially in the prevailing absence of psychological care. Family separation is rife which only exacerbates rights violations for children concerned,” says David Wright, Save the Children’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa

‘The theme of this year’s ‘Day of the African Child’, marked every June 16, is Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children’s rights, with the plight of African children in conflict situations characterised by six grave child rights violations: recruitment into armed forces; killing and maiming; sexual and gender-based violence; attacks against schools or hospitals; abduction; and denial of humanitarian access.

‘Despite strong international, regional, and domestic legal frameworks protecting children during armed conflicts, a recent study by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) found that there is inadequate political commitment to effectively protect children from conflict and crises.  It also noted weaknesses in existing laws and implementation of them, as well as the non-ratification of international laws in some instance.

“Inter-governmental bodies should invest in early warning systems and put in place measures to safeguard child–focused resources and expenditure in times of crisis, including through regional cooperation,” says Wright.

Read the entire press statement by Save the Children: Protecting children’s rights in conflicts and crisis in Africa, 15 June 2016


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