The First Lady Fatoumatta Bah Barrow Tuesday presided over the launching of the first-ever national helpline for children-199, set up to report cases of child abuse and request child protection information for free.
Established by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare with support from UNICEF and CEDAG, the free 199 line offers basic information on Child Protection related issues and directs the caller to a trained Social worker for proper management of the case. It also assists in providing consultations for parents of affected children.
“Children are the most vulnerable members of society, and yet, they suffer most at the hands of those very people that are meant to love, nurture, protect and care for them. Taking care of children is the responsibility of every adult in any community therefore any intervention to care and protect our children is a priority for the Government,” the First Lady noted
The First Lady lamented on the surge in violence against children due to the covid19 pandemic, which she said has lifelong negative effects.
“The rise in violence and abuse against children, as well as their exploitation during the pandemic is a clear indication about the untold suffering by children throughout the country and sadly, across borders. Hence, violence against children in all of its forms needs to be addressed as an integral part of our national, regional and global efforts against COVID – 19,” she observed.
As a champion for causes affecting children, the First lady expressed her continuous support to ensure that children in The Gambia and within the sub-region are safe, secured and their rights guaranteed.