Day of the African Child celebrated in Baidoa with a call to protect children
A cross-section of people gathered in Baidoa, Southwest State, to celebrate the International Day of the African Child with particular focus on protecting Somalia’s vulnerable young people, many of whom are exposed to the harsh consequences of war and conflict. The day is celebrated every year on June 16 and was instituted in 1991 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then OAU in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child recognizes the importance of the Day of the African Child as an advocacy tool for promoting children’s rights and welfare issues. It is also used as a day of sober reflection and action towards addressing the plethora of challenges that children in Africa face on a daily basis. At an event organized with support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), representatives of Baidoa women’s groups, youth, police, Internally Displaced People, civil society groups and the Southwest administration renewed their commitment to respecting and protecting the rights of children. “I am glad that we used this day to discuss the many problems that the Somali child faces. All of us have a role to play in protecting the young people of this country from being recruited by extremist groups who often take advantage of the lack of education and economic opportunities to turn the young into their soldiers,” said traditional elder Abdimajid Addow Hareed. “This is an important day with great significance,” said Fartun Gedow Hussein, speaking on behalf of a women’s rights group. “There are many Somali children who are suffering because of abuse either at home or at the hands of various members of the community. I am happy that the authorities were here for them to appreciate the problems present in our society,” she added. This year, the day was celebrated under the theme: “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040”. Agenda 2040 was established by the African Union 25 years ago and sets out ten solid aspirations to be achieved by the year 2040. The main objective of the Agenda is to restore the dignity of the African child through assessing the achievements and challenges faced towards the effective implementation of the African Children’s Charter.