By Mike Abba
The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Lagos plans a film-show for children as part of the Universal Children’s Day being marked worldwide today.
As part of the celebration today, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, David Beckham will quiz children about their views of the world in a short film to be released for World Children’s Day.
French music group Kids United will release an empowering new music video recorded for UNICEF and World Children’s Day.The theme of this year’s celebration is: ‘It’s Kids Take-Over’ and children from all nations are all involved.
This year, attention will be focused on the plight of 35 million children living in abject poverty across the globe while efforts are intensified to address their numerous economic and social challenges.
Stakeholders who spoke to this newspaper lamented the high degree of poverty ravaging children across the globe, especially those in countries or territories affected by the continued attack by terrorists and other fundamentalist groups.
A Lagos-based Social Worker, Abigail Nkwor, lamented that little attention is paid to such children by government and those in better positions. She said that the plight of these children are so numerous and deep that government should find a means of attending to them because they too are human beings.
“These children are human beings like us and our children. Government should find a way of attending to them closely at all times and ensure their plights are brought to the fore.
“You can see what is happening in Nigeria’s north-east where children are suffering in the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps; the items donated to them are pilfered and taken away by those who already have enough to eat.
“Some of them are sexually molested and they are out of school; it is obvious that little or not hope exists for them.”.
Muyiwa Oguniyi, a school proprietor of childcare in Agege, Lagos suburb, said we should be our brothers’ keeper, especially on this occasion of Universal Children’s Day being marked worldwide today. “Let us meditate on the plight of children without parents, or those with parents that are very poor. Let us extend our hands of fellowship to them and make them happy, not only today but always.
It could be recalled that Nigeria is among the countries where 28 million children are displaced due to conflict. Since ratification of the Child’s Right Act in 1991, Nigeria passed the groundbreaking Child’s Rights Act in 2003 enshrining the rights of the CRC in national law. 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states have subsequently passed state-wide child rights laws.
However, while Nigeria is making progress in protecting children’s rights, for many children, these rights are not yet a reality.
Investigation showed that six out of every ten children suffer violence before the age of 18; 43 per cent of girls are married before their 18th birthday and 17 per cent are married before they turn 15; 10.5 million children are out of school; and 41 children have been used in so-called “suicide” attacks in the conflict in the north east of the country.
It could be recalled that in 2016, almost 20 Nigerian authors took part in a global literary campaign to celebrate Universal Children’s Day and UNICEF’s 70th anniversary, sharing their wishes for children.
They include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Toni Kan, Ayo Soogunro, Igoni Barret and Ifeoma Theodre Jnr Tiny Stories written by the authors are dedicated #foreverychild in seven-line narratives that are being shared on the authors’ own and UNICEF’s social media platforms.
It was pointed out that child marriage, child abuse, access to clean water and education and the right to dream are the recurring themes from the Nigerian writers.
Together with the authors’ sites, the Tiny Stories will be rolled out on the UNICEF Nigeria Facebook page over the coming weeks, leading up to UNICEF’s 70th anniversary.
“Every child has the right to grow up healthy and strong, to be educated and protected, and to have a fair chance in life,” said Mohamed Fall, “Our commitment to child rights must be matched with action for every child.”