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Bureau Régional pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest

Child Protection and Human Rights Directors call for better transnational cooperation in the fight against child trafficking

Banjul, 24 May 2022 : The Gambia is currently hosting a meeting of directors in charge of child protection and human rights, bringing together the beneficiary countries of the Support Project for the Protection of Child Victims of Violations of their Rights, initiated by the West Africa Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (WARO-OHCHR) from 23rd of May, 2022.

This meeting initiated by ECOWAS through its Centre for Gender Development and the Regional Office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is held as a prelude to the High Level Conference of Ministers in charge of Gender and Child Protection of ECOWAS Member States and beneficiaries of the PAPEV, scheduled for 26 May 2022 in Banjul.

The Meeting is Chaired by Mrs. Bintou HK Fatty, Director of Children Affairs of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare of The Gambia, the official opening ceremony was an opportunity for her to recall the expectations at the beginning of the work : "We hope that this dialogue will be a stepping stone towards building a broader consensus around successful emerging approaches and a way forward for policy makers, researchers to create as Africans, a world where every child can grow and flourish in dignity ; where violence and abuse of children is legally prohibited and socially unacceptable.

Indeed, the aim of this technical meeting is to share the experiences and best practices of countries and their partners, to define priority advocacy actions to address the issue of transnational mobility of trafficked children. Mrs. Jagne Siga, ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs, insisted on the importance of a regional approach for the harmonisation of legal and institutional frameworks relating to the protection of children and the promotion of their rights in the beneficiary countries.
In the same vein, Mrs. Aminata Kébé, Regional Coordinator of the WARO-OHCHR, speaking on behalf of the Regional Director of the OHCHR, Mr. Andrea Ori, recalled the progress made by the project, mainly through the support of legal and institutional reforms in the beneficiary countries, but also the implementation of the recommendations of human rights protection mechanisms.

According to Ms Kebe, this has allowed : "the strengthening of access and quality of services with the equipment of nearly 47 childcare centres in the beneficiary countries, the provision of 3,330 dignity kits to children for protection against COVID-19", but also and above all "support for the identification and family reintegration of 125 children between Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau. This results to the partnership that brought together governments and regional partners such as the Network for the Protection of Children in Transnational Mobility in West Africa.

The originality of the PAPEV is that it is the first regional child protection project that covers The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Niger. According to the Chairperson of the Steering Committee in The Gambia, Mr. KAJALI SONKO, harmonization and domestication of regional, sub-regional and international child protection frameworks are not enough, he said that actors "must ensure that the policies approved and commitments made by member states are followed and implemented as planned and above all, ensure that adequate funding is available for the implementation of the PAPEV in its second phase of implementation.

For her part, Ms Eugenia PISANI, Programme Officer at the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the main financial partner of the project, welcomed the holding of this meeting and the progress made by the project since its launch.

As a reminder, the PAPEV is an initiative of the OHCHR Regional Office that aims to support States in strengthening their national child protection systems and to promote transnational cooperation in the protection of child victims of violations of their rights.

For more information contact
Habibou Dia +221 774 472 776 / habibou.dia@un.org