Tackle root causes of child vulnerability - Dr Asare to ECOWAS member states
ECOWAS member states must tackle the causes that make their children vulnerable to child abuse, negative cultural practices, domestic violence among others.
This is to help provide a safe environment and protection for the children to realise their full potential.
The Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Rev. Dr Comfort Asare, gave the advice at the opening of the 19th Annual Steering Committee meeting of the West Africa Network for the Protection of Children (WAN) in Accra last Thursday.
WAN is made up of all countries in the ECOWAS sub-region with the objective to protect children on the move, which is explained to mean all children who move from their countries and their homes to seek greener pastures elsewhere, otherwise known as economic migrants.
They include street children and children who do not have families and are struggling to survive by themselves.
The two-day steering committee meeting would witness a presentation of each country’s achievements and gaps in the protection of children on the move and how to plan for the future.
Pointing out that the phenomenon of children on the move was a major problem in the sub-region, she called on member countries to work hard to educate and sensitise the public including families on the need to protect children.
“Why should a child born into a loving family now be found to be loitering about without family?
I reiterate that everybody must work hard to create a safe environment for all children no matter who they are and where they are from,” she stressed.
She pointed out that children were vulnerable members of society but children on the move were more vulnerable, adding that she hoped the meeting would be able to unearth all the best practices and the gaps that needed to be addressed to make sure the sub-region had a very secure system for children.
Rev. Dr Asare said a child leaving home to work to support themselves was very difficult and risky for their lives because they could fall into bad company or be influenced negatively and that would be a liability on the government in future.
“So, we have to work very hard to prevent some of these things from happening in our countries,” she advised.
An officer of the Department of Human Development and Social Affairs at the ECOWAS Commission, Ali Tiloh Bassabbo Essossinam, said West Africa had a long tradition of child mobility with an estimated 20 million children crossing different borders in the West and Central Africa.
Mrs Essossinam said although migration created opportunities, it could also expose such children to risk, adding that the massive movement of children in the sub-region had created a situation where unscrupulous people took advantage and exposed the children to kidnapping, child abuse and they also become victims of violence.
She pointed out that majority of children on the move were without official documents that bore their names, as such they were further exposed to human trafficking.
The Director for International Social Service at WAN, Dr Djibril Faill, asked African countries to stand up for its children by providing them with protection.
He asked them to identify their own solutions to their problems.