Foundation Equips West Africans for Child Protection

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Rebecca Ejifoma

In a collaborative effort, European Union and implemented by Terre des hommes Foundation, ENDA Youth Action and the African Movement of Working Children and Youth (AMWCY) have implemented the project for the protection of migrant children along Abidjan-Lagos in West African coastal region.

The project, which is called CORAL, held at Badagry from February 13 to 15 with key players in the field of child protection from Ogun and Lagos states.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr. Akeem Muri-Okunola, expressed that children would only benefit more if all actors worked together as a team. Adding, he urged them to think more on what they can give for the success of the project rather than what they can get.

Muri-Okunola, who was represented by the Head of Child Protection in the Ministry, Mrs. Modupeola Sahi-Adebambo, further advised Terre des hommes and participants to work closely with right people working in their key intervention areas.

Addressing participants, the Head of Country Office, Terre des hommes in Nigeria, Mrs. Osoba Olapeju, said the choice of having participants from Lagos and Ogun state was simply because the project’s intervention areas cover both states.

To ensure all participants recognise their roles in the protection of migrant children and how important it is to advocate for their rights, she reminded participants that all children have the same rights, migrant children inclusive.

Olapeju emphasised that the same rights that are extended to other children must be extended to migrant children. “The migration of people is an issue that presents us as a people with a lot challenges. People move for various reasons but most of these movements come with a lot risks and dangers especially for children who are directly or indirectly affected and who sometimes are unaccompanied”.

She, however, added that leaving the responsibility of the protection of migrant children to the institutional actors alone without involving the community actors will not yield the desired result. “The primary host of migrant children and children on the move is the community where they live.”

Continuing, she suggested that working directly with traditional rulers, chiefs, market leaders, religious leaders and influential people in those community would implore their protection, reduce their risk and increase their opportunity to capacity building or skill acquisition.

Olapeju advised all actors to always show high level of interest and perform their duty professionally. “Creating a synergy and a strong network among the actors will surely improve the condition of migrant children and those of children on the move”.

Child Protection Network (CPN) Coordinator, Mrs. Ngozi Okoro, described the training as a great opportunity for CPN members especially those working with street children to learn how to identify migrant children and profile them as such saying that the training would empower them to know the steps to take to help these children.