By Olimatou Coker
The vice president Dr Isatou Touray yesterday made a special appeal to Gambians to embrace peace and unity in the interest of national stability.
The VP made these remarks at a meeting of stakeholders on integrated in-country advocacy and capacity building on the implementation of Ecowas International Humanitarian Law, Trafficking In Person, Gender-Base Violence, and child rights in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic held at the OIC Gambia building.
“As peacemakers in this new initiative that is going to start in The Gambia, you should be reminded that it is only through peace and stability we can sustain the change,” VP Touray said.
She said all Gambians should embrace peace for the benefit of an enabling environment.
“The time and international attention is there for us to build this country when there is peace and stability,” she said.
VP Touray said The Gambia is the first of five countries where the programme is implemented.
“I am told that subsequently all 15 member states of Ecowas will be engaged in a similar manner. This approach will clearly build upon the existing work of the commission in addressing child rights and protection, combating human trafficking and GBV issues,” she said.
The Ecowas ambassador Vabah Gayflor said: “Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, emerging data and reports have shown an increase in different types of violence against women and children in The Gambia as well as in other parts of the region.
“Children in this country still face a high prevalence of violence. Social norms and values, including a culture of silence, weak prosecution of sex offenders still pose a big challenge to the consistency of child protection services and weakens the child protection system.”
Ms Gayflor said the innovative approach of the integrated in-country high-level advocacy coordination and capacity building of multi-stakeholders on issues of gender violence creates an opportunity to address the human security and protection challenges.
Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow, said the Covid-19 pandemic has put women and children at risk of maltreatment, gender-based violence, and sexual exploitation.
“We will continue to count on the support and goodwill of the international community and engagement with bodies such as the Ecowas to ensure effective delivery of our commitments,” he said.