UNODC raises awareness on child protection with actors of regional committees in Niger

Dosso/Zinder, Niger - 31 January 2019 - In recent years, Niger continues to face the phenomenon of child recruitment by extremist and violent groups. For example, Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the Lake Chad Basin area use this method. In addition, Niger is also a point of origin, transit and destination for victims of trafficking and smuggling of migrants, most of whom are women and children. Indeed,  a recent UNODC report   shows that more than 50% of victims detected in 2016 in West Africa were children. In addition, statistics also show that women and girls are the most represented profile of victims of trafficking in persons, accounting for up to 70% of the total number of trafficking cases processed globally.

These trends have the negative effect of undermining the rights and protection of children and therefore highlight the urgent need of focusing efforts on this segment of the population. Depriving children of their rights to education, health and simply growing up in a family is a serious violation of fundamental human rights and leads in the long run to the weakening of a country's potential to develop itself both socially and economically. Thus, as requested by the government of Niger, UNODC, through the framework of its Global Program on Violence against Children, has been working since 2016 to address this multi-faceted phenomenon. As part of this assistance to the government on issues related to child exploitation, UNODC led two workshops from 14-15 November 2018 in Dosso and 19-20 November 2018 in Zinder in order to sensitize regional protection actors and help build their capacity to develop an effective response to this issue at the regional level. The two workshops brought together around 40 people, including 6 women.

The awareness workshop provided participants with a better understanding of national and international frameworks regarding violence against children. In doing so, the workshop deepened participants' knowledge on the key themes related to this phenomenon, including children's rights, various forms of child abuse and exploitation, identification of victims, as well as the best communication practices with children. The assistance and protection measures to which child victims should have access in Niger was also discussed. This workshop is part of a desire to reverse the phenomenon of exploitation of children in a region particularly affected by this type of crime.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Kadi Zakari, representative of the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Child Protection encouraged the participants to actively engage with the debates and exchange with the experts for the purpose of strengthening their capacity to identify, assist and protect child victims.

The workshops were organized within the framework of the UNODC Global Program on Violence against Children and the Global Action to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT).

These workshops are also directly related to the ongoing implementation of the  Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) introduced by the United Nations in 2015. In this case, SDG 8 "Decent Work and Economic Growth" is of great relevance, especially Target 8.7 which aims to "Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms". 

It was also in this context that the  Blue Heart Campaign was launched at the UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which in 2018 had the specific theme of "responding to trafficking in children and young people ".  This campaign took the form of an awareness of young people by calling them directly on social networks via the help of popular youth ambassadors (rapper, blogger, artist).

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants ( GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.

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