Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
Working Journalists in Bauchi state have called on state governments and Houses of Assembly in the North to domesticate as well as enact the Child Right Act endorsed by the United Nations in the region where children’s rights were most abused as a result of insurgency activities.
The call formed part of the resolutions of a one-day meeting for Journalists to commemorate the day of the African Child, 2016, put together by the Bauchi Radio Corporation in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Bauchi Field Office which held in Bauchi recently.
The meeting, which had the theme: ‘Conflict and Crises: Protecting all Children’s Rights’, brought together participants from the print and electronic media to deliberate on the unfavourable conditions of children in conflict areas particularly in the North-east being affected by the insurgency.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the participants also charged governments at all levels to be more proactive in protecting children from violence and conflicts which lead to the loss of their lives. They said with relevant laws in place, children would have access to better education, water, health care services and quality life.
While declaring the session open, Managing Director Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC) Hajiya Jummai Liman Bello lamented that the nefarious activities of insurgents in the North-east in recent times had negatively affected thousands of children economically, educationally and physically; hence the need for all stake holders to put hands on deck in order to improve their plight.
According to her, media practitioners have vital roles to play in protecting the rights of the children particularly their inalienable rights to survival and development, through regular reportage on issues concerning them as well as pressurising government, policy and law makers to do the needful.
In his remarks, head of UNICEF, Bauchi field office, Dr. Abdullai Kaikai represented by the communication officer, Mr. Samuel Kaalu explained that within the last two years, the organisation had constructed 40 boreholes, 240 latrines, 36 new hand pump boreholes in different communities hosting the internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Adamawa state at the cost of N134 million under their water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects.
He promised that the UNICEF also intends to execute numerous intervention projects in the areas of health care delivery and education for the victims of insurgency especially the children this year in IDPs camps.
In a paper presentation, a former consultant with UNICEF and the Chairman, Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Emergency preparedness and Awareness Committee, Alhaji Inuwa Bello, called on journalists to create awareness on the plight of children especially those living in the IDP Camps.
Bello, in a paper titled ‘The Impact of Conflict and Crises on the Rights of Children: A Call to Action for all’, said the conditions of children in the country particularly those in various IDP camps is pathetic.
“It is very unfortunate that, according to NEMA/Presidency records, during the last three years, over 2 million people were displaced in the North-east, half of them are children. Half of them are either orphans or separated from their parents and hundreds of thousands have been killed as a result of the insurgency direct attack or malnutrition as a result of starvation and hunger.
He added that “Some become child soldiers, others are forced into exploitation. The fundamental rights of these children are flouted.
“The Governments at all levels have a duty of conflict prevention but where there is conflict, they are to manage it so that it doesn’t escalate. But if it escalates, it is their duty to resettle those affected.”
According to Bello, Journalists also have a critical role to play in setting agenda for stakeholders, the government, creating awareness, informing and sensitising the public on the need for them to ensure that the rights of the leaders of tomorrow are protected.