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Children’s Day: UNICEF calls for action to end violence

…says over 1.2 million children are displaced in North East

By Chioma Obinna

As Nigeria celebrates Children’s Day tomorrow with the theme: “Protect the rights of the child in the face of violence and insecurity: End child marriage”, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF has called on the Federal Government to take actions and renew efforts towards ending all forms of violence against children.

The call came as UNICEF records showed that more than 1.2 million children have been displaced in the North-East of the country.

In a statement to mark the Day, Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, Jean Gough, noted that the theme of the day helps to shed a much needed light on the unprecedented levels of violence against children in Nigeria in the recent past and present.

According to Gough, “In the North East, we have witnessed, and continue to witness grave violations of children’s rights – killings, abductions, sexual violence and use in suicide bombings by Boko Haram.”

Noting that out of the 1.2 million children more than half of them were below the age of 5, Gough added that children living away from the crisis in the North East are also at risk of violence.

The UNICEF Representative, noted that the Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey carried out by the National Population Commission, with the support of UNICEF and US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and launched by Government of Nigeria in 2015, highlighted the prevalence of sexual, physical, and emotional violence suffered by children in Nigeria.

Disadvantaged children
Disadvantaged children

“The survey estimates that half of all children in Nigeria experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence before they reach the age of 18 years. Less than 4 percent get the help they need to recover.”

Gough further recalled that while launching the Year of Action to End Violence Against Children last year, in conjunction with the National Priority Actions, President Mohammadu Buhari called upon all States to launch their own campaigns and every Nigerian to play their part in ending violence against children.

“Progress has been made. Lagos was the first State to heed the President’s call, launching their own campaign and priority actions in February 2016. Cross River will be the second in June 2016. Bayelsa State domesticated the Child Rights Act. Nine States, with funding from USAID and the European Union, have joined together to develop a model child protection system in order to translate this essential Act into reality. 12 States will hold #iMarch4Children marches today to raise societal awareness on the prevalence and impact of violence against children.

“This year’s Children’s Day offers the opportunity to highlight the significant pledges made by the Federal Government, NGOs, religious groups and the media last September to join hands to end violence against children, and call for renewed efforts by all stakeholders to turn the commitments they made into action for children”, said Gough.


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