(Paul Orude, BAUCHI)
The National Assembly has been called upon to hasten the enactment of the propsed North East Development Commission bill to reduce the suffering of persons particularly children affected by the Boko Haram crisis.
The call was made in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day sensitisation meeting organised by the Bauchi Radio Corporation (BRC) with support from UNICEF Bauchi field office to commemorate the 2016 Day of the African child held at Fariah suites, Bauchi, yesterday.
The meeting brought together journalists from various print and electronic media in Bauchi to raise awareness on the situation of children in conflict and crisis, in the context of the theme for the Day of the African Child 2016: “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights.”
Participants noted the unfavourable conditions of children in conflict areas, particularly the North East affected by insurgency and discussed possible ways government and stakeholders can contribute to protecting the rights of children caught up in the insurgency.
The communiqué expressed support for the proposed bill expressing optimism that such a commission will fast-track rebuilding and settlement of destroyed communities in the region.
The communiqué then charged journalists to bring out the plight of displaced children in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and IDPs’ host communities affected by the insurgency in the north east sub-region.
It lamented the large number of children orphaned or displaced by the Boko Haram crisis in the north east sub region, saying regular reportage by journalists would elicit the required positive response from government and stakeholders.
The communiqué advised the government to come up with community-driven peace-building mechanisms that would reduce the likelihood of conflicts escalating into physical violence.
It called on legislators in the North Eastern to make relevant laws that will seek to protect the rights of children and ensure the domestication of the Child Rights Act by States which are yet to domesticate the law in the region.
In a paper entitled The Impact of Conflict and Crisis on the Rights of Children, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Bello, Chairman, Preparedness and Awareness Creation Committee of the Bauchi State Emergency Agency (SEMA), disclosed that over two million people, half of them children have been displaced as a result of insurgency in the north east.
Also speaking during the meeting, in a paper What UNICEF does to Protect the Rights of Children during Conflict and Crisis Mr. Samuel Kaalu, Communication Officer, UNICEF Nigeria Bauchi Field Office, said the organisation is supporting government and other stakeholders to ensure the survival, development and protection of children.
Kaalu added that, “UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, ensure a “first call for children” and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families.”