UNICEF harps on protection of children’s rights

May 27th, 2019

By Hassan Zaggi

The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on the Nigerian government to recommit to urgent, specific actions to protect the rights of all children in the country.

In a statement to mark the Children’s Day, the UNICEF’s new Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, insisted that children in Nigeria are still not accessing health, nutrition, education and other rights to the extent that they must.

According to him: “On this Nigerian Children’s Day, we must look ahead to the future of childhood in this country, and re-commit to urgent, specific actions to protect the rights of every child – now, and in future generations.

“Child rights will only be fully realized when every government and every citizen is aware of and upholds children’s rights, and every child can claim those rights.

“It is for this reason that we are launching a campaign ‘For every child, every right’ and will work closely with the government to ensure that all Nigerians are aware of the rights that all children have. This includes in particular children themselves.

“Working together, we can seize this moment and make it a turning point for every child.”

The UNICEF Country Representative, however, lamented that, “sadly, it is the most disadvantaged children who are suffering the greatest challenge in having their rights fulfilled.”

He noted that, as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), UNICEF is launching a “Passport to Your Rights” – a copy of the CRC in child-friendly language, in pocket format, noting that, UNICEF aims that every child in Nigeria has a copy by 2030 – the deadline for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The CRC ‘passport’ will also be available in Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and Pidgin languages, helping to ensure access by millions of Nigerians.
“30 years ago, something incredible happened. World leaders came together in a moment of unity for the world’s children. They made a promise to every child to protect and fulfil their rights, by adopting the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Convention established childhood as a period that is separate from adulthood – a time in which children should grow, learn, play, develop and flourish.

“We want to see every Nigerian child have that kind of a childhood,” said Peter Hawkins.

He noted that following the ratification of the Convention in Nigeria in 1991, the lives of many children have been transformed and also inspiring legislative changes to protect children and enabling them to participate actively in their societies.

He, however, said that despite the above achievements, much more needs to be done as, according to him, “children’s rights continue to be unfulfilled and threatened daily around the world and in Nigeria.

“There are still too many children being left behind, and too many childhoods cut short by violence, conflict, poverty and inequality.”

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