Int'l Day of African Child marked
Addis Ababa, June 18 , 2012 ( WIC) -The International Day of the African Child was marked for 22nd time with the theme: ''The right of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect Promote and Fulfil '' at AU Conference Hall here yesterday.
Speaking at an awareness raising programme organized by Wings Education Media and Artist Chaci Tadesse, President Girma Wolde-Giorgis through his representative said that the government is working hard to improve the life-style of children with disabilities and protect their rights through effective legislation. “It has established programmes and services to support children with disabilities within their respective families at state and national level. The situation of children with disablities is improving.”
Girma added that children with disabilities face so many challenges. The very challenge in the process of improving their lives is unavailability of reliable data. “When children with disabilities are not included in the data collection efforts, they are equally absent from policy discussions and budget allocations.
''We need to address the needs of children with disabilities in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal and reduce poverty by half in the year 2015. It is also crucial to strengthen social protection measures and provide adequate support for their families,'' Girma said.
Women, Children and Youth Affairs State Minister Frenesh Mekuria on her part said that Ethiopia and other African countries are making utmost effort to fulfill the right and interest of children with disabilities. “Though this is a springboard for further accomplishments, it is impossible to say all their problems are completely avoided, they better lead life,” she added.
“Because of low level of awareness of the society, still now, enormous children with disabilities are withheld and this will in turn have negative impacts on their right to education, health, security and other services. They are also exposed to stigma and discrimination, nobody heard their voices, their rights are violated. This can corrode their self-esteem and self-confidence,” she noted.
''Ethiopia has a commitment to sustain and strengthen the ongoing multifaceted tasks of protecting the right of children in cooperation with stakeholders who are working in the area,'' the State Minster said.
Commissioner of Social Affairs, African Union Commission, Bience Gawanas, through his representative said that the Day of the African Child presents an opportunity to focus on the work of all actors committed to the right of the children on the continent, and there is no exception. “The Day also provides an opportunity for all governments, international institutions and communities to renew their ongoing commitments towards improving the plight of marginalized and vulnerable children by organizing activities aimed at including them in the broad social development programmee.”
Gawanas also said that there are several areas that compel urgent attention from all actors, including civil society, governments, REC's and the African Union. “However, for the purpose of the commemoration of the DAC in 2012, six areas of concern have been highlighted namely — poverty and disability, social attitudes, stigmatization and discrimination, access to education, violence against children with disabilities, statistics and data collection and the right to be heard and to participate.”
Health State Minister Dr. Kesete-Berhan Admasu through his representative also said that improving child health and prevention of long term childhood disability is among the top priorities of health extension programme. “Some of the high impact interventions to improve child health and prevent disability include strengthening expanded programme of immunization, improving infant feeding practices, universal vitamin A supplementation, strengthening basic household practices and expanding community and facility based integrated management of neonatal and childhood illness.”
The International Day of the African Child has been marked on June 16 annually since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity. It honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.( ETHIOPINA PRESS AGENCY)
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