The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has called on the Federal Government and other world leaders, to respect the rights of children by recommitting to child survival and development.
In a statement to mark the International World Children’s Day, UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall stated that the world would be a better place when every child is safe from harm and is educated.
While calling on Nigeria to honour the global request seeking individuals as signatories to the global online petition asking for children to be put back on the agenda, Fall stressed the need to reach out to the vulnerable children who according to him have been left behind.
He said, “We want to build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their potential and nowhere is this more true than in Nigeria.
A lot has been achieved but there is still much to do to ensure that Nigerian children benefit from advances in child rights. At the moment, too many children are being left behind, and we need to reach them.
“Nigeria has the world’s highest number of out-of-school children, and one of its highest rates of maternal, child and infant mortality.
More than four million children are unimmunized and tens of millions of Nigerians still do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation, putting children’s health at risk.
“Diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria combined with underlying malnutrition are responsible for most of the deaths among infants and children in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s burden of stunted growth among children is the second highest in the world, with 16.5 million affected, and the burden of severe acute malnutrition is high, with an estimated 2.6 million children severely acutely malnourished.
“No matter where a child is born whether into wealth or poverty they and their parents have the same hopes and dreams for their future. And we owe it to all children to give them a fair chance to survive and fulfil those dreams,” he said.
Fall further noted that UNICEF’s partnership with the Nigerian Government was primarily to ensure stronger investment that will yield progress for all children in the education and health sectors including routine immunization for all, nutrition and child protection.
According to him, “Nigerian children experience a wide range of abuses and harmful practices. An estimated 3 in 5 children have suffered one or more forms of violence before reaching 18, with over 70 per cent experiencing multiple incidents of violence.
“This World Children’s Day, we must recommit to children knowing that for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we must invest in long-lasting institutional and community-based systems and policies for children’s survival, growth and development.
“Nigerian children have a huge role to play in the country’s national development. It is the generation of children growing up today who will take their place as Nigeria’s leaders tomorrow and who will be able to take further to really accelerate the progress we make now,” he added.
Every year on Nov 20, Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the International World Children’s Day.
The theme of 2018 International Children’s’ Day is “Children are taking over and turning the world’’.
United Nations Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20th each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
This year the world is going blue to celebrate children.