Day of the African Child : Unicef is mobilizing to restore the rights of all children

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In the occasion of the Day of the African Child 2024 and Cameroon Children’s Month, UNICEF Cameroon is reminding of the major challenges thatmore than 13 million children aged 0 to 17 are facing, and the main priorities guiding its actions to ensure that Cameroon’s children enjoy all their rights.

In Cameroon, they are still a lot of childrens suffring according to the institution « early one child in two (47.5% of children aged 0-17) suffers from multiple deprivations suchas as food, health, protection, access to water, etc… that affect their development », Can we read in their press release .

Although Cameroon ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1993, then the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in 1997, « Nearly 6 million Of children still do not have their rights fully guaranteed » says Nadine Perrault, UNICEF Representative in Cameroon.

The deprivation particularly affects girls and women. There are marked differences in terms of education and per capita income. 27.3% of rural children suffer severe deprivation, compared with just 3% of urban children.

Several factors come into play specifically the  impact of climate change on children which  amplifies their vulnerability. « In very different climatic zones, the changes and shocks are varied, leading to droughts, floods and disruptions to the rainy season cycle, which damage livelihoods and put pressure on demand for basic social services », reveals UNICEF. And all of this causes much damages «  Every year, 336,000 children die before their 5th birthday, and almost 28/1,000 die on their first dayof life. The main causes are HIV, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and malaria. In addition, only 69% of births are attended by qualified staffand only 65% of pregnant mothers undergo the recommended 4 prenatal consultations ».

The situation is alarming and complex, however the child protection institution does not intend to let down its guard and persevere until all children, or at least the majority will be restored to their fundamental rights by  supporting the development of services to make birth registration a reality for all children in the country ; through proven strategies involving health services (health centres, community workers, vaccination Activities, etc.), particularly at municipal level. UNICEF welcomes the recent initiative of the Mayors’ Forum held on 26 and 27 April 2024 in Yaoundé under the high patronage of the President of the Republic to commit Cameroon’s 374 mayors to facilitating parents access to civil status services, as well as the Government’s efforts to « catch up » with children who are at school but not registered through mobile court hearings to issue birth certificates. Not only that, they also support for immunizationand health services, through infrastructure, inputs particularly vaccines and training for health workers. In particular, UNICEF has been very active in supporting the introduction of the new malaria vaccine into Routine immunization programmes last January. UNICEF is also supporting the authorities to vaccinate all children, and is implementing strategies to reach all Children, including the most vulnerable and in the most remote areas.

Finally, to reduce the harmful impacts of climate change on children, UNICEF is « integrating climate action into all its programmes, in particular by making education an entry point for developing the skills needed to adapt to droughts, extreme weather events, heat waves and biodiversity loss ».

Children are of capital importance for the well-being of the world, they must be protected, kept. It is in this wake  that the organization works.

Constantin GONNANG

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