Torit, Bor commemorate Day of the African Child

18 Jun 2013

Torit, Bor commemorate Day of the African Child

17 June 2013 - The South Sudanese government had a responsibility to work towards eliminating harmful socio-cultural and traditional practices affecting children, the Eastern Equatoria deputy governor said in state capital Torit today.

"We are proud of our children... I urge the police to treat violations against children with seriousness," said Jerome Gama Surur during celebrations of the Day of the African Child at Freedom Square.

UNMISS State Coordinator Hiroko Mosko urged the government to take responsibility and act fast in supporting children.

"UNMISS will continue to help strengthen the capacity of the state government and child protection actors to protect children affected by armed conflict, violence abuse and exploitation," she said.

Osman Assai, a 16 year-old boy, said the government must address harmful practices like rape and defilement, forced-marriage, involvement of children in cattle rustling and child labour.

He reminded other children that "education is the key to success".

In Bor, Jonglei State, Samuel Chol Alier, representing other children in the state, urged parents, organizations dealing with children and the state government to recognize their rights.

Representatives from UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency and the Jonglei Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare attended the celebration held at Freedom Square under the theme, "Stop Child Abduction".

Mr. Alier noted that child soldiers had contributed to the liberation of South Sudan.

"In South Sudan, we need to make sure that we commemorate the ... day to remember the children of (this country who fell) during the ... years of the struggle (for independence)," he said.

The Day of the African Child has been celebrated by member states and partners of the African Union on 16 June every year since 1991 to honour the memory of school children killed in Soweto in 1976 during a protest against apartheid-inspired education.

The day also serves to raise awareness about the plight of African children, bringing together actors for their betterment. The theme for this year's celebrations was, "Eliminating harmful social and cultural practices affecting children: our collective responsibility".