United nations children fund ( UNICEF) in partnership with the SIDA(Swedish international development cooperation agency),as well as the Bayelsa state government on Thursday through Friday held two days programme on child protection as well measures in tackling violence against women and children in the state.
The event tagged: ‘Engagement with key stakeholders for child protection intervention in emergency in seven affected LGAs of the state (Bayelsa)’ had participants drawn from various child rights, child specialists and women groups brainstorming on causes and measures to avert violence against women and children,in the state, respectively.
Stating the rationale behind the programme, a child protection specialist from Unicef’s Enugu field office, Mr Victor Atuchukwu noted that the Programme became imperative following the 2022 ravaging floods which displaced and exposed several women and children in the seven flood worst hit local government areas of the state.
He described child protection risks in emergencies such as those occasioned by the 2022 floods as unintended injuries and death, displacement, sexual violence and abuse, family separation, child labour, emotional and psychological distress as well as physical violence and gender-based violence.
The Unicef child protection specialist charged stakeholders, especially community leadership to act as agents through which rights of children could be guaranteed and children protected from violence and exploitation, adding that children are future leaders who ought to be given immunity against vulnerability.
This was just as he said Children needed to safe and their future secured even in emergencies.
Mr Atuchukwu who also enumerated some Unicef’s child protection responses in emergencies mentioned that the UN’s children fund would partner the state in the provision of mental health and psychosocial support, emergency case management for unaccompanied and separated children during emergencies in IDPs camps, provision of preventive and responsive child protection services and ensuring registration of births as well as strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms, amongst others.
He said: “Unicef would intervene in the rapid assessment of the impact of flooding on children across seven LGAs of the Bayelsa state. We’ld carry out capacity building training for seven LGAs/community social workers and service providers.
“Unicef would also carry out the identification and capacity strengthening for 231 child protection structures and services at community level family tracing and reunification of 200 children.
“We’ld also identify and provide child protection services 800 children, including girls. Unicef would provide a comprehensive psychosocial support services, including life skills education and positive parenting to 35, 000 children, adolescents and caregivers.
“We’ld provide risk mitigation, prevention and response messaging and intervention to address gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) to 35,000 children, adolescents and caregivers.”
While, intimating participants on expectations and rules of the programme, Director of children development department, Bayelsa state Ministry of Women, Children Affairs, Empowerment and Social Development, Mr Panebi Jacob relived the ravaging impacts the 2022 floods had on the state.
He commended Unicef for the initiative, describing the state as having really been dealt with by the floods.
Jacob also noted that at the end of the Programme and other subsequent interventions in terms of handling emergency situations by Unicef in collaboration with the state, the issues raised, regarding exploitation, violence and gender-based inequalities against women and children would be checkmated to the barest minimum
Highpoints of the event were goodwill messages by select Traditional rulers from the seven flood impacted LGAs of the state, including, Yenagoa, Ogbia, Nembe, Sagbama, Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw and Kolokuma/Opokuma local Government Areas, as well as other participants.