UNICEF SA boss, Mayke Heijbregts said they have been trying to understand what children have been facing over the past 6 months during the lockdown. UNICEF has been meeting with experts of child rights and child protection activists in order to come up with global and national solutions.
“Millions of children have become hungry because of the closure of schools as well as exposed to online violence. Many parents and caregivers have lost their livelihoods and children had to witness their distress.”
UNICEF has also seen many children express fear and anxiety during the lockdown period. The Africa Child Trauma Conference has been taking place in the hopes of drafting an Emergency Action Plan for Children Protection.
“Children really bear the brunt of this crisis nationally, continentally and also globally. Having been in lockdown for so long and having experienced and witnessed a lot of fear and distress, it’s important that this action plan demonstrates the commitment we can make at a global, continental and national level for children to create a nurturing care framework,”
Jelly Beanz Executive director, Edith Kriel said children are not being prioritised in Africa, as the situation was already bad before the lockdown.
Kriel said if changes aren’t made, this generation of children will be traumatised. She explained that the conference in partnership with UNICEF is aimed at addressing multiple issues.
“The purpose of the conference is two-fold. We have people joining us for the conference where we are looking at empowering and skill building for practitioners who work on the ground with children. The outcome of the conference is this Emergency Action Plan and that is about sharing with the various government organisations, the various civil societies and then asking people to commit to this and holding them accountable to what they have committed to,”
Heijbregts said more needs to be done in order to make sure that children’s voices are heard in the conversations and frameworks being developed.
“We are moving in order to make sure that no child is left behind and the time is now as the level of suffering children have experienced is too high for us to continue like this, so it’s really important that we put children first, we nurture care and love and protect them,”
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé