By Juldeh Njie
Child Fund International The Gambia has over the weekend commemorated the Day of the African Child on the theme ‘the role of children in peace building’.
The commemoration according to the officials provides an opportunity for state parties, government bodies, NGOs and other stakeholders to give further support to the campaign and raise the awareness level of all stakeholders about the consequences and the positive effects of ending conflict and crisis against children in Africa.
In his welcoming remarks, West Coast Region governor Ebrima Mballow said the day is honored to remember the young people of South Africa who were massacred in Soweto in 1976 for protesting against apartheid system of education.
Mballow said it is part of the global efforts to elevate child protection agenda in conflict situations as well as guarantee the protection and preservation of life and wellbeing of children.
“These children are our hope; our insurance as well as the country’s most valuable assets”. He called on all parents and concern authorities to show love, care, protect and support children because they are the future.
The WCR governor reminded the gathering that the African Charter on the Right and Welfare of the Child is a convention that was ratified decades ago which protects children at all times as such it is necessary to “reflect on some of the challenges impeding the realization of such stated conventions and then get rid of them so that our children’s lives and wellbeing can be protected and preserved”.
He urged the gathering to do away with conflicts and crisis which always have negative impact on children who virtually become victims of rape, torture, child trafficking, drug abuse among others.
Speaking earlier, Child Fund country director, Musu Kuta Komma -Bah said this day which is celebrated on June 16 every year, raises awareness of the continuing need for the improvement of the education provided to African children. The theme selected by the African committee for the celebration of the DAC this year is ‘Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030’.
“Violence and abuse affect every aspect of a child’s life and can destroy their potential, impede their development, diminish their mental and physical health, and often compromise their education and participation in public life,” she said.
She said Child Fund is committed to improving the well-being of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children in the Gambia, because they have been standing shoulder to shoulder with the government, civil society organizations and the community in contributing to the development of children in the Gambia.
Speaking on behalf of the youth minister, Dembo Kambi NYC chairman, applauded the agencies such as UNICEF, Child Fund, Child Protection Alliance and parents for ensuring that children are not only protected but also taught to be responsible and respectful.
He said the government will continue to provide the required enabling environment to all stakeholders to continue the good work in enhancing the lives, survival and development of children.
“The protection, security and development of our children becomes collective responsibility. The state will continue to ensure that the laws that are meant to protect and secure our children are implemented without fear and I hope parents will continue to give necessary support and guidance in the development of their children, so that they can grow up being responsible and productive citizens tomorrow”.