Mogadishu, June 19, 2016 – Somalia yesterday joined the rest of the continent in celebrating the Day of the African Child, with a pledge to enhance education and protect the rights of children.
Top officials from both the Federal Government of Somalia and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) promised to work together to achieve the noble objective of improving the rights of vulnerable groups.
The function held in Mogadishu was attended by Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia (DSRCC), Lydia Wanyoto; Federal Government Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Zahra Mohamed Ali Samantar, children, members of the civil society and senior AMISOM officials.
Ms Wanyoto noted that children are the future of Somalia and reiterated AMISOM’s commitment to continue working together with the Federal Government and development partners to improve their rights.
“AMISOM is not only here to degrade Al-Shabaab and be in the battle ground, but also help nurture family life and the future of Somalia,” she added.
The DSRCC said AMISOM would like to see children in Somalia living a normal life like their counterparts in other parts of the world in a peaceful and stable country.
“That is why we have come to join you in celebrating this day together with our children since they are Somalia’s future and we recognize them,” she observed.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Zahra Mohamed Ali Samantar, noted that plans are underway by the government to reintroduce free education in the country.
“The Ministry of Education has been trying for a long time to have free education for children. Modern education is expensive but the ministry is opening schools to offer free education,” the Minister said.
The day was also celebrated in Kismayo, Beletwayne and Baidoa where residents turned up in large numbers to review gains made and challenges ahead in the fight for the protection of the rights of the African child.
In Baidoa, the event was organized by the Interim South West Administration’s Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development and was attended by Governor of Bay, Abdirashid Abdullahi; District Commissioner of Baidoa, Abdullahi Ali Watiin; Deputy Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Binti Ibrahim Ali, members of the regional parliament and Baidoa Women Group representatives among others.
The Governor of Bay region, Abdirashid Abdullahi, urged children to turn a deaf ear to those cajoling them to join terrorist groups.
“You should not be brainwashed or recruited as child soldiers. Do not fall prey to the deception of the few who would want to deny you education and other basic rights. You are the future governors, ministers, parliamentarians and presidents,” the Governor added.
Binti Ibrahim Ali, Deputy Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, reiterated Governor Abdullahi’s sentiments, urging children not to be enticed to become child soldiers.
Hawa Sokor, Baidoa Women Representative and Abdullai Ali Watiin, Mayor of Baidoa, urged the Federal Government of Somalia and the regional administrations to adhere to the constitution in protecting and promoting the rights of children.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights’. The Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union.