By Funmi Ajumobi
Terre Des Hommes Foundation, an international organisation has advised child protection actors in Lagos and Ogun States to reduce vulnerability and the risk factors faced by children migrants in the process of migrating but increase their access to development opportunities to prevent future emergencies like the recent cases in Libya.
This advice was given by the Head of Country in Nigeria, Mrs. Osoba Olapeju at a 3-day training that brought together major players in the field of child protection from Ogun State as well as in Lagos State at Sycomore Hotel, Badagry, last week.
According to Mrs Osoba Olapeju, the objectives of the gathering was to improve the knowledge of participants on child protection, the concepts of mobility and the protective accompaniment of children which is a child protection approach created by Terre des hommes Foundation. It was also to strengthen their knowledge on case management of children affected by mobility, institutional and community based child protection mechanisms, case management tools, the registration of children affected by mobility and to have the restitution of the mapping report of CORAL project for Nigeria which was done in the five locations where the project is being implemented in Lagos and Ogun States: Badagry, Oshodi, Makoko, Lagos Island and Abeokuta.
Talking briefly about Coral project, Osoba reminded the participants that all children have the same rights, migrant children inclusive and, therefore the same rights that are extended to other children must be extended to migrant children.
“The migration of people is an issue that presents us as a people with a lot challenges. The reality over the years has shown that people can’t be stopped from moving. People move for various reasons but most of these movements come with a lot of risks and dangers especially for children who are directly affected and who sometimes are unaccompanied. Our timely commitment and support for the protection of children on the move or those who are affected by migration will go a long way in preventing future emergencies such as the recent Libya example”. Osoba added.
She however added that leaving the responsibility of the protection of migrant children to only the institutional actors without involving the community actors will not yield the desired result, saying that the primary host of migrant children and children on the move is the community where they live.
She said working directly with actors such as traditional rulers, chiefs, market leaders, religious leaders and influential people in those communities will ensure their protection, reduce their risk and increase their opportunity of having access to capacity building or skill acquisition.
She advised the protection actors to always show high level of interest and invest their time in carrying out their duty professionally.
“Creating a synergy and a strong network among the actors will surely improve the condition of migrant children and those of children on the move”, she said.
Osoba also added that the protection project along Abidjan-Lagos corridor in the West African coastal region also known as CORAL PROJECT was launched in Nigeria at Airport Hotel, Lagos, on December 21, 2017, financed by the European Union and implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation, ENDA Youth Action and the African Movement of Working Children and Youth (AMWCY).
Declaring the workshop opened, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr. Akeem Muri-Okunola, represented by Mrs. Modupeola Sahid-Adebambo, Head of Child Protection in the Ministry advised Terre des hommes to work closely with the right people working in their key intervention areas because children will only benefit more. She also urged the participants to work together as a team and to think more on what they can give for the success of the project rather than what they can get.
Mrs Ngozi Okoro, Child Protection Network Coordinator, Nigeria, said the training was a great opportunity for CPN members, especially those working with street children, to learn how to identify migrants children from street children and profile them as such, saying that the training will empower them to also know the steps to take to help these children.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Ogun State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, the Child Protection Network, Ogun State, the Child Protection Network Lagos State, the Network of Civil Society Organisations Against Child Trafficking, Abuse and Labour (NACTAL), National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Vanguard Media and some other notable NGOs.