Children’s Day: strengthening protection of children’s rights, says UN in Nigeria
As Nigeria grapples with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund has called for increased efforts to protect children’s rights in the country.
Calling on Thursday in a statement to commemorate Children’s Day 2021, UNICEF Nigeria Country Director Peter Hawkins lamented the outbreak of the pandemic, saying it had threatened decades of progress as the world body had made for the development of children.
“It has been a difficult year for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the children of Nigeria. As we rightly celebrate Nigerian children today, let us also remember that the COVID-19 crisis has been a crisis of children’s rights – in Nigeria and around the world.
“Poverty is increasing, inequalities are increasing and the pandemic has often disrupted essential services that ensure the health, education and protection of children and young people.
“The longer the pandemic lasts, the more intense its impact on women and children.
“On this Nigerian Children’s Day, let us all agree that we cannot let one crisis make another worse.
“The pandemic threatens decades of progress we have made for children.
“Violence is perpetrated against one in four Nigerian children – and one in three Nigerian girls is sexually abused. This has only increased during the pandemic.
“Today every day, we must commit to strengthening protection mechanisms for all children,” said the country director.
Hawkins praised the Nigerian government’s efforts at all levels and urged society to protect education, health and protection services in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.
He noted that Nigerian children are resilient, talented and aspired to do great things, stressing that it is our responsibility to give them the platform and encouragement to do just that.
The country director added: “But we have also learned from this pandemic. One thing we’ve learned is that education doesn’t just happen in schools – children can and should learn both in and out of school.
“A learning continuum is essential to ensure that all children continue to receive an education regardless of their circumstances, location or the pandemic.
“We know that protecting children and investing in women and families is not just the right thing to do – it has proven to be a sound economic choice and a profitable tool for national development.
“As we celebrate our children today, we must act in their best interests and deploy innovative solutions to accelerate learning and health services to build back better, for every Nigerian child.