By Chioma Obinna
As the world yesterday marked World Universal Children’s Day, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has urged countries to protect the rights of every child in the world.
Making the call in a statement to mark the day, UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake who stressed that Universal Children’s Day was more than a day to celebrate children said it should be seen as an annual opportunity to recommit towards protecting the rights of every child.
Lake said countries must be committed to the universal, inalienable rights that the world pledged to protect on this day in 1989, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
He said the world had committed towards ensuring that every child has ‘Rights to dignity and security, treated fairly and to live free from oppression as well as have a fair chance in life’.
Continuing, he said: “The health and soul of all societies depend not only on how these rights are recognised and acted upon but on this Children’s Day, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that the rights of millions of children are being violated every day all over the world.
“They are being violated in eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas across Syria, where children are cut off from food, water, and medical care.”
“They are being violated in Yemen, where children are dying because we cannot reach thousands of them with therapeutic foods to treat acute malnutrition – and where cholera now threatens more young lives.
“They are being violated in North Eastern Nigeria, where children, especially girls – are threatened by extremists who take away their very childhoods.
“They are being violated in South Sudan, where millions of children are facing a severe nutrition crisis and the country faces the prospect of widespread atrocities.”
“They are being violated around the world, in every country, wherever children are the victims of violence, abuse and exploitation.
Lake, however queried how the children will learn to respect the rights of others if their own rights are violated. “How will they view the world, and their responsibility to it? These children are the future leaders of their societies. The future engines of their national economies. The future parents and protectors of the next generation.”
He said when their rights are protected it would prevent them from suffering.