AU urges African countries to protect children from violence, exploitation

ADDIS ABABA, May 14 — The African Union (AU) on Tuesday expressed deep concern over the growing number of refugees and displaced children in Africa, and stressed that children’s rights be safeguarded against violence, abuse and exploitation.

The AU Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) made the urgent call in a statement issued on Tuesday following decisions made during its recent meeting, which was held under the theme “Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa.”

“The Council called on all AU member states in conflict situations to continuously take the necessary steps with a view to ensure full compliance with International Humanitarian Law, in particular to ensure that schools are not attacked and used for military purposes,” the statement from the AU-PSC read.

It underscored the importance to effectively address the root causes of forced displacement and urged African countries that are facing conflict and crisis situations “to expeditiously find political consensual means and ways of effectively resolving these conflicts and crises, as well as to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation, including their recruitment as soldiers.”

It urged African countries that are hosting refugees “to continue to provide safe environments for inclusive and quality education to refugee children, consistent with relevant continental and international normative frameworks for refugees and children.”

It also called on all AU member states, which have not yet signed, ratified or fully domesticated all relevant AU and other international child protection instruments, to swiftly do so in a bid to protect vulnerable children across the continent.

The AU Peace and Security Council further requested the AU Commission to work closely with member states to address gaps in education policies at national, regional and continental levels, while ensuring that systems are put in place to support the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of these policies. – XINHUA