By Carol Natukunda
The African Union has launched a universal campaign to recognize and endorse the rights and welfare of children in their laws.
The campaign dubbed ‘Universal Ratification and Reporting on the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child’ aims at protecting children against violence.
In a statement, the AU noted that while some member states had already endorsed the cause, some countries were yet to show any interest, 10 years after the agreement to protect the rights of children was sealed.
“Presently the number of ratification stands at 47 out of 54 AU member states,” the statement said.
“The remaining seven countries which are yet to ratify are Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Somalia, Democratic Republic of São Tomé, South Sudan and Tunisia.”
In crisis-prone Central African Republic, aid workers have reported before that children had become deliberate targets of armed gangs.
They have said that children were directly targeted because of their family's faith in clashes that broke out between Muslim former rebels and militias from the Christian majority.
Displaced Muslims from CAR, Chad and other countries are fleeing attacks by Christian extremist militias. PHOTO/AFP
French soldiers of the Sangaris operation gesture during a patrol in BanguI. PHOTO/AFP
A woman sits among luggage in a hangar at the airport in Bangui on January 30, 2014. PHOTO/AFP
UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in a statement at the end of last year, said it had verified 16 killings of children since December 5.
60 more youths were wounded in the fighting, it reported.
In Uganda’s northern neighbor – South Sudan –, children have been caught in recent fighting between government forces and rebel groups.
Thousands have been killed in the fighting pitting forces loyal to President Salva Kiir against a loose coalition of army defectors and ethnic militia nominally headed by sacked vice president Riek Machar, a seasoned guerrilla fighter.
The fighting has seen waves of brutal revenge attacks, with the United Nations and rights workers reporting horrific atrocities committed by both sides, the AFP reported.
Both sides implemented a ceasefire last Friday, but combat has only eased, not ended.
Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby met with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir in Juba on January 30. PHOTO/AFP
South Sudanese refugees cook on an open fire at a camp run by the Sudanese Red Crescent. PHOTO/AFP
An SPLA soldier stands in front of Leudit church. PHOTO/AFP
Meanwhile, in its latest release, the AU said that only 20 out of 47 state parties have complied duly to their obligations to submit initial reports to the committee as stipulated in our articles.
Among these, Burkina Faso and Kenya have submitted their periodical reports.
The statement said all African countries are expected to approve and endorse the charter and report on its implementation accordingly.
Upon approval, the state parties have the obligation to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of children.
The campaign is planned to be conducted within a two-year period, with a series of activities and outreach events across the continent.
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AU roots for children’s rights