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Child rights advocates highllight plight of under-fives
Monday 25 April 2005
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SWAZILAND: Child rights advocates highllight plight of under-fives


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]



©  IRIN

Swazi children at play at Neighbourhood Care Point in the eastern Lubombo region.

MBABANE, 20 April (PLUSNEWS) - Child rights advocates have banded together in a bid to cope with ongoing concerns about the welfare of Southern Africa's children.

At a recent meeting organised by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Swaziland, delegates from Lesotho, Malawi and South Africa highlighted the need to bolster care programmes targeting children under five years.

"In Swaziland we have begun a network of Neighbourhood Care Points that provide a structure for assisting orphans and vulnerable children. In Malawi they are using a comprehensive approach for all children, not just orphans," UNICEF country director, Alan Brody, told PlusNews.

Participants from Malawi said some gains had been achieved through legislation protecting children, while funding from government and the private sector had resulted in an improvement in their nutritional status and school performance.

Swaziland has a population of about 1 million, of which 70,000 are children under the age of 15 who have lost parents to AIDS.

"Despite the breakdown of the family and the extended family [due to the AIDS pandemic], we are fortunate to still have community structures," said Derek Von Wissell, director of the National Emergency Response Committee on HIV/AIDS.

Swaziland's first Neighbourhood Care Points were established in 2002-03 by community members.

"UNICEF gave nothing more than a big cooking pot to them, a few toys and some soap. But as soon as the food appeared in those pots, scores of children appeared from impoverished homesteads ... sometimes with no parents or adults left [because of AIDS] to look over them," said Brody.

Swazi authorities allocated R47 million (US $7.6 million) to the education of orphans and vulnerable children this year, while UN agencies are providing additional assistance through targeted programmes.

"The mix of children at the care points has changed, and most of those we find there now are very young - aged between two and seven. Some of them arrive there already in a compromised state, because their infant care and nutrition has not been adequate," Brody added.

Following discussions with their Malawian counterparts, Swazi officials and NGOs were expected to expand early childhood assistance to all under-five children.

"We need to ensure good early childhood development outcomes for all the children in our communities, but with special emphasis on the most vulnerable," said Brody.

[ENDS]


 
Recent SWAZILAND Reports
Some optimism despite gloomy new HIV figures,  8/Apr/05
Health workers score with TB campaign,  7/Apr/05
Call for regional women's organisation to combat HIV/AIDS,  6/Apr/05
HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women rises,  5/Apr/05
Construction workers' hostel not wanted in upmarket suburb,  28/Mar/05
Links
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
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The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making a Difference for Children Affected by AIDS

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