50 per cent of refugees in Africa are children - NGO

Daniel Agbolade, Ibadan

Chairman of a non-governmental organisation in Oyo state, Association of Orphans and Vulnerable Childreen Non-Governmental Organisations in Nigeria, (AONN), Mr Marcus Williams, has said 50 per cent of refugees in Africa are children, with not less than  three million children forced out of their native communities due to various humanitarian crises.

He also said about 400,000 children are out of school in Oyo state, stating that the time has come for governments at all levels and private sectors to rise up to defend the right of children so as to guard against the violation of their rights. 

Williams who made the disclosure in Ibadan while addressing newsmen on the occasion of the International Day of African Child,  said children all over the world are facing a lot of challenges as their rights and privileges are been trampled upon by people who ought to be protecting them.

He said, "Children constitute a significant proportion of populations on the move across international and national borders globally, with a large number of those children moving from and across Africa, Nigeria, especially children in South West and Oyo in particular.

“In Africa, 50 per cent of refugees are children, with about three  million children forced out of their origins due to various humanitarian crises. Among migrants, nearly 1 in 3 is a child, which is more than twice the global average.

"The requirement to place children’s rights first is an indication that where there is an obligation, the requisite body or individual must fulfil such an obligation in the interests of the child or children concerned. This is a restatement of the need to uphold the best interests of the child at all times."

Williams noted that stakeholders are under obligation to evaluate the viability of their policies to cater for children in vulnerable situations, including children with disabilities, to ensure that their rights are upheld, noting that humanitarian crises have far-reaching implications and affect all strata of society.

While speaking on the roles of the organization, he said it is  working on children wellbeing in Nigeria and "seek to commemorate the day of the African Child via this press conference to draw attention to the rights of children and access to humanitarian response."

He pointed out that the day marked the Day African Child is celebrating in memory of students in Soweto, South Africa, killed and wounded in 1976 during protest against poor quality education and demand that they should be taught in their own languages.

He highlighted some of the expectations of the organization from Oyo state government and other stakeholders to include using  preventive measures to avoid humanitarian situations which lead to the violation of the rights of the childreen, protection and promotion of children’s rights during humanitarian emergencies as a key to achieving the desired outcome of aspirations, develop strategies that indicate the steps taken to ensure that the best interests of the child, especially children with disabilities are upheld in humanitarian crises.

"We also want to appeal to the government to do more in ensuring that laws that protect the rights of children are enforced and the populace sensitized on existing laws with emphasis on penalties when the Rights of children are trampled upon, because It is the duty of the government to protect and fulfil the Rights of children, but the roles of the private sector cannot also be overemphasized.

"The Private Sector should also invest more in education, health, clean environment and shun all forms of child labour and protect children affected by emergencies. Attention should be placed on supporting children in the State through organisations Corporate Social Responsibility", he added. 

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