June 16, 2019 10:02 am

The Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection (MoGCSP) on Friday 14th June 2019 celebrated the African Union’s (AU) Day for the African Child with children at the Ampain Refugee Camp in Nzema in the Western Region. The day was marked with a durbar held in collaboration with key partners like the Ghana Refugee Board, UNHCR Ghana, Plan International Ghana, and UNICEF Ghana.

The 2019 AU African Child was commemorated on the theme ‘Humanitarian Action in Africa; Children’s Rights First’.

Speaking at the durbar, the Ag. Director for the Department of Children of MoGCSP, Mrs. Florence Ayisi Quartey explained that the chosen theme for this year’s commemoration was a buildup on the momentum created by the 2018 theme “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development.” She added that this year’s celebration of the Day of the African Child was also linked to the World Refugee Day which is celebrated on 20th June, and also the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and also the ratification of the UNCRC by our dear Country.

The choice of hosting this year’s event at the Ampain Refugee Camp, the Ag. Director revealed, was very significant to the chosen theme and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals SDG mantra of leaving no one behind.

According to UNICEF, humanitarian crises deny tens of millions of children the chance to attend school, which threatens present and future human capital as research has shown that without education, children face an increased risk of violence and exploitation from extremists, traffickers and criminals.

In view of the above, Mrs. Florence made a call to all key and relevant stakeholders to work assiduously on the need to promote, protect and develop children during humanitarian situations to ensure they reach their maximum potential.

“Even though Ghana as a country does not have any humanitarian crisis, what we have witnessed and continue to witness give an indication that every peaceful situation that is not managed well could trigger a humanitarian crisis. We need therefore as a nation to put measures in place to prevent and mitigate any humanitarian situation that may affect the wellbeing of children,” she said.

Mrs. Florence noted also that in the face of the multiplicity of internal armed conflicts, weather-related disasters and terrorist attacks which contribute to the increase in the number of refugees on the continent, Ghana has a responsibility more than ever before to protect the rights of refugees.

“For decades now, Ghana has become a host country par excellence; either due to its geographical proximity to the countries in conflict situation or due to its reputation as a hospitable country. Currently, Ghana is host to some 13,000 refugees and asylum seekers from different countries. Of this number, 4,600 (representing about 34% of the refugee population) are children,” she disclosed.

She stressed that the primary responsibility of protection of children in humanitarian crisis falls on the State. Therefore, the protection and respect for the rights of refugees, which are more than a duty, constitute an obligation for the government of Ghana and also for its citizens.

Mr. Asum-Kwartey Ahensah, Country Rep. Director of Plan International, said that Plan International Ghana which is a child- centered development organisation holds itself into account and commit to workable solutions to the best interest of children in Ghana and Africa at large.

Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, Country Rep. Of UNICEF, congratulated Ghana on its wonderful display of hospitality and humanitarian assistance to refugees and living in the country.

She added also that Ghana was making great strides with respect to the implementation framework of the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC).

For his part, the Rep. of the Ghana Refugee Board, Mr. Tetteh Padi, expressed his appreciation to MoGCSP and partners for choosing to mark the African Child Day the Ampain Refugee Camp by honouring the refugee children with a free health screening, Fun fair, and a durbar.

He was confident that as the stakeholders after the commemoration of the day at the camp will keep into constant perspective the welfare of the refugee children of the camp.

The Day of the African Child has been observed after it was initiated by the then Organization of African Unity since 1991. This was after the Soweto uprising that took place in South Africa in 1976 where thousands of school children marched in a column more than a half mile long to demand better educational system and facilities. The people of South Africa were not satisfied with poorly trained teachers, overcrowded classrooms and separate schools provided by the Apartheid regime.

Hundreds of school children were killed in clashes with police, with the most famous victim being Hector Pieterson, a 13-year old boy, whose picture was taken by journalist Sam Nzima.

Each year the observation of the Day of the African Child raises public awareness of the need for improvement of the education and general wellbeing of children in Africa, and governments, nongovernmental organizations and international organizations gather on June 16 to discuss and implement children rights in Africa.

Source: MoGCSP

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