Yvonne Chaka Chaka celebrates with Namibian children at Swakopmund

Namibia joined the rest of the African Continent on Thursday to commemorate the 25th Day of the African Child, under the theme “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children’s rights”. The main event this year took place in Swakopmund where the African children in Swakopmund had the privilege to meet Yvonne Chaka Chaka the Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF.

According to the Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child welfare Ms Lucia Witbooi on behalf of the Minister of Gender Equality and Child welfare Ms Doreen Sioka, the day is marked by all members of the African Union to take stock of the progress made and the outstanding challenges towards the full realisation of the rights of children on the continent. “The Day of the African Child gives us another opportunity to mobilise our efforts for the sake of children’s protection and to promote children’s rights to a wider audience, as per the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), these rights are classifieds under four broad themes: Survival, Development, Protection and Participation” adds Witbooi.
Witbooi further said the rights enable children in practice to grow and develop in a holistic manner and they must be safeguarded by one and all, and most particularly by the family and the State. “The protection of all children’s rights must be prioritised. Although, there is no conflict in Namibia, there are other social evils such as gender based violence and violence against children including child marriages and teenage pregnancies that have negative impact on the well-being of the Namibian Child” adds Witbooi. According to Witbooi the Day of the African Child presents an opportunity for them focus on the work of all actors who are commit-ted to upholding the rights of children on the continent, and to support their efforts in addres-sing the obstacles for realising these rights.
Namibia have programmes and interventions aimed at supporting safe, family-based care for children, enhancing community engagement, identifying children at risk through the involvement of the community and other role players and conducting awareness campaigns involving existing community structures towards ensuring the protecting of children’s rights in Namibia. According to Witbooi, recently the Child and Care Protection Act of 2015 was enacted and the process of finalising its regulations is at an advance stage, primary education is free to all Namibian children and child grants, coverage has been expanded to include vulnerable children from poor households where the biological parents or caregivers are not able to provide for the basic needs of their children. “Three weeks ago, Namibia held a conference on Child Online Protection, to pave the way forward for the protection of our children, who are exposed to online information that is unsuitable for them” adds Witbooi.
The Junior Mayor of Swakopmund, Tanya Knuffel said that children are the most vulnerable segment of a population “therefore they are negatively affected in various ways. Wars and conflicts put children in situations where children’s rights are violated, including the right to life, the right to live in a familiar environment, the right to health, the right to education and the right to survival and development.”
According to Knuffel, sexual violence on both male and female children which include rape and other forms of sexual violence against children have been listed as a grave violation of the children’s rights during armed conflicts in Africa. Knuffel said sexual violence have both physical and psychological effects on the health well-being of victims. “I would like to encourage the youth of today, stand up for yourself, step out of your comfort and we must become the change we want to see. We are capable of doing so much more today than ever in the history of mankind, always trust in your own abilities even if you think you can’t, you can do it” concluded Knuffel.
UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Ms Yvonne Chaka Chaka said “ I am here to pledge my solidarity with you Namibians, Namibian children as well as young people and to encourage you and your leaders on how best they can ensure that your rights to protection is realised. The United Nations Convention on the rights of a child, article 19: Protection from all forms of violence stipulates that children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally.
This entails that children are properly cared for and protected from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents or anyone else who is looking after them” Chaka Chaka emphasised.
According to Chaka Chaka, a family is the first line of protection for the children, parents and other caregivers are responsible for building a protective and loving home environment, schools and communities are responsible for building a safe and child friendly environment outside the child’s home so that the children can survive, grow, learn and develop to their fullest potential. “It is through children’s hopes and dreams that the future of the Namibian child is based” adds Chaka Chaka.
Witbooi called on all the Namibian Children to embrace the peace and stability enjoyed in Namibia, “I would like to call on you, our children to work towards the prosperity of our country by studying hard and be able to make your contribution to the economic and social development of our beautiful country”.

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