As the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns have been raised on the negative impact the pandemic is having on children.
Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, the minister of state for youth and children has noted that due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic such as the closure of schools, the children are now more exposed to abuse, exploitation, violence, desertion, and inadequate nutrition due to loss of income caused to the caregivers.
‘Protection [of children] should be prioritized and remain central during the response to COVID-19. Protection risks must be assessed, monitored and measures to address violence against children and gender-based violence be included in all COVID-19 response plans,’ she said.
Nakiwala, who was speaking to journalists at the Uganda Media Centre about the day of the African child, noted that between March 31st and June 5th, 2020, the ministry handled a total of 1,430 protection cases ranging from child neglect, defilement, child marriage, physical abuse, child desertion, missing children, child labour, among others.
‘More data on the scale and nature of the impact of COVID-19 among children in Uganda- including girls, families and communities to enable better planning and intervention,’ she said.
Fred Ngabirano Commissioner Youth And Children (right) Being Interviewed By Journalists At A Press Conference To Mark Day Of The African Child At The Uganda Media Centre.
She called for prioritization of the continuity of child-centred services, provision of practical support to parents and caregivers to provide care and support to children during and after the pandemic.
She said there is also need to ensure that digital literacy is affordable, equitable and safe for all learners.
The theme this year is ‘Access to comprehensive child-Friendly Services during COVID-19 pandemic’.
The day of the African child was instituted in 1991 by the Organisation of the African Union (OAU) in memory of thousands of black schoolchildren who marched on June 16, 1976, in Soweto, to protest against the poor quality of education and demanded to be taught in their own languages. However, during the march, hundreds were massacred while many more were injured.