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17.06.2005 Regional News

Children demand their rights, protection for brighter future

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Accra, June 17, GNA - Ten school children from selected Junior Secondary Schools in Tema on Thursday marked the Day of the African Child with a call on African leaders to implement sustainable plans that would eradicate poverty, provide protection and security for their future development. They also called on all on the continent to endorse the global call to the action against poverty and pledge to change their consumption pattern to favour locally produced goods.

The day, which was initiated by the Organization of the African Unity in the light of the experiences of the African Child, is celebrated under the theme, "Securing the future of the African Child." The children also petitioned governments, ministers especially in Ghana and all well-meaning Africans to stand up to their promises and liberate the African people from hunger and disease.

Mr Kwabena Okai Ofosuhene, Chief Executive Officer of Abibiman Foundation said the African child believed that total liberation for the child could be met if there were trade justice, debt cancellation for all African countries and a major increase in the quality and quantity of aid. According to Mr Ofosuhene, the petition by the children would also be given to the ECOWAS headquarters for action. He said as the African child competed with the developed continents in the development arena in-spite of diseases, hunger, political instability, falling economic and education standard, so did the local industries compete with those of the developed nations. "Africa needs its children and local industries as security in moving its development agenda forward, we cannot depend on the few cents and pence in the form aid from the developed nations to develop the continent." He called on governments to design appropriate policies that would strengthen the local industries, enhance trade and provide employment for the African child.

Today the African child faces huge challenges including falling educational standards, increasing decline in social infrastructures, ever increasing political instability, conflict and refugee environments. Children have been forced to live their lives as adults as they are forced into child labour, sex slavery, child soldiers, child labourers, child-parenting as AIDS orphaned children had to take care of the younger siblings. Master Chris Addae Abankwa, a student of Marbs Complex School said the future of the African child was shrouded as a result of non-involvement of children in active decision-making and the inability of African leaders to fulfil their promises to children.

" When the leaders are asked all they say is there are plans in the pipeline, it is time all these plans materialized and African leaders halt their talks and take action." " We want a future where we would see respect for our rights, end to child exploitation, abuse, violence, protection of the environment, and an equal partnership in the fight for the child rights." He also appealed to UNICEF to help develop a global movement for development. The children later planted trees at the Ministries of Women and Children Affairs and Trade and Industry as a symbol of growth for children's rights and national development.