Gambia: National Forum On Orphans And Vulnerable Children Hold Workshop

26 November 2009

Gambia: National Forum On Orphans And Vulnerable Children Hold Workshop

26 November 2009

The National Forum on Orphans and Vulnerable Children in collaboration with the Department of State for Social Welfare and the World Initiative for Orphans on Monday began a two day consultative workshop on the protection of vulnerable children and children without parental care.

The theme for the forum was "bridging the gaps".

The principal objective of the forum was to create awareness for government leaders, decision-makers, politicians and civil society of their responsibility to all children without parental care.

Addressing the participants at the opening ceremony, Mr. Abdoulie Badjie, Vice President of the Voice of the young who spoke on behalf of children said the national forum is a big challenge to every one in and outside the hall; including the government and non-governmental organizations, parents and children alike. He said many children in the Gambia are not enjoying their childhood because they have been orphaned by HIV/Aids and other maternal complications and have limited or no care at all.

He quoted article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to advance his argument.

He concluded by adding that the convention further obliges state parties, including the Gambia to fulfill the rights of children especially vulnerable children such as those with disabilities, children in conflict with the law, refugee children, child victims of abuse, neglect and torture and children such as "almoudous", child beggars and child labourers; adding such children need to he protected from sexual abuse and exploitation, abduction, trafficking and drug abuse.

Mr. Maarten G.H Brekelmans, the President of the world Initiative for Orphans, lamented on the numbers of orphans in the world.

He said around 2025, "we will face around 300 million direct orphans and around 100 million indirect orphans in the world, that mean about 5% of our total population and almost 10 percent of the children's population".

He said with the population in Africa expected to grow from 1 billion to 2 billion people, he said they fear the future in this area.

The minister for health and social welfare Dr. Abubacarr Gaye said the issue of children in the Gambia is central to the nation's history and tradition.

He said intervention into family life must be guided by state laws and sound professional standards.

He said the Gambia government has put in place a comprehensive law, "The Children's Act 2005 which seeks to protect and promote the rights of all children in the country.

He said an orphan is a child who has lost either one or both parents. He said they also lack support for their basic needs and are equally vulnerable. These includes street children, children affected by conflict, children with disability and children affected by HIV/Aids