By, Mohammed Kawu, Bauchi.
UNICEF has expressed dismay that insurgency in the Northeast has displaced more than 1.2 million children and more than half of these figures are below the age of five years, while children living away from the crisis are also at risk of violence.
The Agency noted the grave violations of children’s right, especially in the areas of killings, abductions, sexual violence and use in suicide bombings by Boko Haram in the sub-region in past years.
It said in a statement marking this year’s Children Day with the theme; “Protect the rights of the child in the face of violence and insecurity: End child marriage” the unprecedented levels of violence being perpetrated against children in Nigeria.
The statement signed by the UNICEF ‘D’ Field Office Bauchi Communication officer, Samuel Kaalu, recalled that the survey carried out by the National Population Commission (NPC) with support of the agency and US center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015 highlighted the prevalence of sexual, physical and emotional violence suffered by children in Nigeria.
“The survey estimates that half of all children in Nigeria experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence before they reach the age of 18 years. Less than 4% get the help they need to recover”.
The Communication Officer said that President Muhammadu Buhari in response on September 15, 2015 launched the Year of Action to End Violence Against Children, in conjunction with the National Priority Actions which not only set out the key actions of federal ministries and agencies, but also of NGOs, religious group and the media.
Kaalu further recalled Lagos state was the first to heed the President’s call by launching its own campaign and priority action in February this year with Cross River becoming the second when it launch the campaign next month while Bayelsa state has domesticated the Child Right Act.
“Nine States, with funding from USAID and the European Union, have joined together to develop a model child protection system in order to translate this essential Act into reality. 12 States hold #iMarch4Children marches today to raise societal awareness on the prevalence and impact of violence against children”.
“This year’s Children’s Day offers the opportunity to highlight the significant pledges made by the Federal Government, NGOs, religious groups and the media last September to join hands to end violence against children, and call for renewed efforts by all stakeholders to turn the commitments they made into action for children”, said Jean Gough, Representative UNICEF Nigeria.
Meanwhile, thousands of school children Friday celebrated this year’s Children’s Day in Misau in a colorful ceremony held at the township stadium and participated by more than thirty primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the local government area.
The chairman organizing committee of the event, Malam Adamu Muh’d Chidawa has told reporters during the parade that they organize the event to commemorate Children’s Day, recalling that for the past sixteen years the event was not held in Misau.
Chidawa explained that they organize the event to promote unity among the various schools as well as imparting the significance of the day to the upcoming generations.
By, Mohammed Kawu, Bauchi.