The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, has expressed concerns over increased violations the rights of Nigerian children.
In a goodwill message to mark this year’s Children’s Day, the international body said grave violations were very high in the North-East, Nigeria.
In a message signed by Jean Gough, Representative UNICEF Nigeria, which was presented in Enugu, he said the theme of this year’s Children’s Day, “Protect the rights of the child in the face of violence and insecurity: End child marriage”, was an effort to shed more light on the unprecedented levels of violence against Nigerian children in the recent past and present.
He observed that;
“In the North East, we have witnessed, and continue to witness grave violations of children’s rights – killings, abductions, sexual violence and use in suicide bombings by Boko Haram. More than 1.2 million children have been displaced – more than half of them below the age of 5. However, children living away from the crisis in the northeast are also at risk of violence.
“The Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey (carried out by the National Population Commission, with the support of UNICEF and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), launched by Government of Nigeria in September 2015, highlighted the prevalence of sexual, physical, and emotional violence suffered by children in Nigeria.
“The survey estimates that half of all children in Nigeria experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence before they reach the age of 18 years. Less than 4% get the help they need to recover.
“This year’s Children’s Day offers the opportunity to highlight the significant pledges made by the Federal Government, NGOs, religious groups and the media last September to join hands to end violence against children, and call for renewed efforts by all stakeholders to turn the commitments they made into action for children.
“In response, His Excellency, President Buhari had launched the Year of Action to End Violence Against Children on 15th September 2015, in conjunction with the National Priority Actions, which not only set out the key actions of national Ministries and Agencies, but also of NGOs, religious groups and the media. He called upon all States to launch their own campaigns and every Nigerian to play their part in ending violence against children.”
Also speaking, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State declared that the incidence of child trafficking and other vices against children had reduced to the barest minimum in the State.
Ugwuanyi, who stated this in his speech at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, to mark the Children’s Day celebration, said the decline in child trafficking was a result of collaboration between the government and so many other bodies.