By Ebere Obike
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has urged nations in the West African region to prioritize children’s welfare and protection in their national agenda, while aligning with the goals and objectives of the African Union.
The Programme Officer Traffic in Person, Human Development and Social Affairs, ECOWAS, Mr Olatunde Olayemi, made the call at the ECOWAS Inter-Sectoral Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Child Rights event in Lagos.
Mr Olayemi pointed out that ECOWAS has important mandate on child right which goes beyond division, directorate and department and this is recognized by the leadership of ECOWAS.
He explained that they have been tasked to ensure that all the department, directorate, division and other ECOWAS entities including institutions which is outside Abuja, are working in a coordinated manner to support the right of the child.
Mr. Olayemi who said they have a number of key partners on the child right as observers at the event, noted that they are there to support the process to provide valuable input into the strategy around promoting and protecting the rights of children in West Africa.
“This is more or less the internal meeting of ECOWAS commission focused on the right of the child which is to help position ECOWAS even better in supporting member states of ECOWAS and population of ECOWAS with respect to the child’s right to survival, development and participation.”
The Director, ECOWAS, Youths and Sports Development Centre, Bukina Faso, Mr Francis Njoaguani, urged members states to strengthen their policies as children are affected more
during political or social crisis.
Mr Njoaguani, who noted that many schools have been shut down as a result of terrorism, advised government to take Schools to Internally Displayed People’s camps in such situation.
“The ECOWA commission have brought together experts in the area of child’s right to try and look at and validate document in strategic plan document for implementing child right protection within ECOWAS programme”.
In December 2017, the Heads of states and Government of the ECOWAS adopted a strategic framework for strengthening National Child protection systems to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and exploitation of children in west Africa.
People from different west African states attended the three days event.