By Julius Odeke
The African Union Commission (AUC) is hosting the Third Pan-African Forum on Children.
The two day Forum which opened on the 19th of November, 2012 under the theme: “The Responsibility to Invest in Children”, has brought together continental experts and US stakeholders to assess progress in implementation of the Plan of Action for an Africa Fit for Children.
Addressing the Opening Ceremony, Commissioner for Social Affairs, Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, said the overall objective of the Forum was to review the implementation of the Call for Accelerated Action on the Plan of Action Towards Africa Fit for Children by AU Member States and other stakeholders as well as to strengthen accountability, and advocate for stronger synergies for investing in children.
Kaloko added that the Forum also aimed at promoting the mainstreaming of child rights issues into other sectors at regional and national levels, thereby contributing to the promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of children in the context of the family.
Mekdim Zerubabel, a 15 year old girl, told the gathering that there was a need to address challenges faced by children in conflict situations.
She said children’s rights were being trampled upon in many parts of Africa such as Eastern DRC, Northern Mali, Somalia and other parts of Africa.
Another child of 13 years told the same gathering that the majority of African children were exposed to sexual violence, prostitution, ill treatment and illicit drugs. Some children were also being drafted into armed forces while others were led into, early marriages, child labor or became street children.