-Says EU head of delegation
November 22, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Head of the European Union Delegation in Sierra Leone has reckoned that there is no future for any country if children are denied rights and opportunities to grow up to be healthy, informed, empowered and responsible citizens.
Ambassador Tom Vens was speaking on Monday (November 20) at his residence during an event for children, hosted in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to mark this year’s World Children’s Day.
November 20 is celebrated every year as World Children’s Day with the aim of promoting mutual exchange, understanding and awareness among children worldwide, and initiate action to benefit and improve their welfare.
The day also served as the anniversary for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the date in 1959 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
Speaking during the event, Ambassador Vens stressed the need for children to have access to health and grow up in a secured environment without violence and abuse.
“Children should be able to attend and finish school and later have the opportunities to find jobs that allow them to assure their own livelihoods and those of their future families,” he said.
He noted that while children cannot vote in the elections of next year, many of the decisions that politicians make after the elections would be important for them, which is why their voices need to be heard.
Ambassador Vens spoke about the current preparation of a 23 million Euros programme by the EU in agreement with the government that will foster decentralisation by empowering local authorities, as well as local and rural civil society organisations to fund and implement jointly agreed initiatives that respond to the priority needs of communities.
On his part, UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim said: “Children are considered as the building blocks of a strong nation. They have the capability and potential to change the nation in positive ways.”
According to him, it is vital for children to grow up in an environment of happiness, care, and compassion so that the child is fully prepared to live as an educated, independent and empowered individual in the larger society.
A child from the Youth and Child Advocacy Network (YACAN), Dolcie Kailie remarked: “I want you all to reflect how the average Sierra Leonean girl grows and the possibility of violence to be inflicted on us. We the children of this country suffer from all forms of violence in our home, school and community.”