By Lizzy Okoji
The ECOWAS Parliament, in its bid to curb the rise in the number of children on the street as well as lifting them up, has unveiled an initiative to aid them.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sidie Tunis, at the inauguration on Friday in Abuja, said that ECOWAS also launched a Parliament for Street Children to serve as the voice for the deprived and abandoned kids
Tunis, who commenced the inauguration with the induction of the Bureau of the Street Parliament, said that Childrens rights were to be protected as backed by the UN.
Tunis was represented by the Second Deputy Speaker, Sani Boucary.
He said that it was in a bid to protect children all over the world that the UN set aside a day to celebrate children, adding unfortunately that the number of children on the street was now on the rise.
We observe an increase in the number of children that are attracted to the street for various reasons, particularly the death of their parents or instability created by violence and wars.
Street children are deprived of all of their rights and it is up to the government to ensure that these children reach their full potential, he said.
According to him, curbing the wave of violence and other factors that contribute to the number of street children is a collective responsibility.
I am happy to identify with ECOFEPA and other partners in recognising their role to give a fresh life to these children by establishing this parliament for street children.
We should support the children. Street children without homes and families, represent the greatest challenge for us to tackle because they need long term intervention, he said.
The Speaker added that this was a very important stage in the efforts of rehabilitation for the children to participate in governance and democratic life without resulting to violence.
Also speaking, the Vice President of Liberia, Mrs Jewel Taylor, stressed that no child should be abandoned.
Mrs Taylor, who spoke through video conference, stressed that no child should ever be deserted or harmed by those, who have the duty to protect them.
I laud the Speakers and Members of ECOWAS Parliament, especially female members for using the ECOWAS parliament to advance the cause of Children living in the streets, Taylor said.
She stressed that such street children must be taken out of the streets and prepared for the future ahead of them.
Mrs Tanko Almakura, Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on African First Ladies Peace Mission, said that the street only offers the children gangsterism, cheap labour, sex abuse, low self-esteem among others.
These children are easily taken advantage of and become prey to child trafficking, drug peddlers and ritual killers.
Indeed the street children syndrome is an ill wind that blows no one any good, it is a dangerous phenomenon and we must take every drastic step to reverse the trend.
This, we must do for the love of the street child and the love of ourselves, lest we forget, the kidnappers, bandits and robbers of today were mostly street children of yesterday.
Also, the criminals of many years to come are the children of today, who are not rescued from the street. So the vicious cycle will not stop unless we take conscious steps to do so.
At the African First Ladies Peace Mission, we believe that the most potent step to stop street children is to attack the conditions that breed them in the first place, she said.
A high point of the event was when one of the street children displayed his soccer and ball control skills on the floor of Parliament.
Other speakers, who delivered good will messages, also cautioned that the menace of street children was like a time bomb that would hunt all in the nearest future.
They stressed that the good life which many were building for their kids may not come to be if the challenge of street children was allowed to fester. (NAN)
Source: NAN News