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Sunday 25 December 2005
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LESOTHO: New bill gives children comprehensive protection

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

©  UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi

OVC will receive greater attention under the new bill

JOHANNESBURG, 24 June (PLUSNEWS) - Parliamentarians in Lesotho are deliberating on a new bill that will protect orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than 70 people die from AIDS-related illnesses every day in the tiny mountain kingdom, leaving behind scores of OVC with little or no protection and guidance.

"As Basotho people and parliamentarians we must invest in children today, or there will be no more adults tomorrow," said Refiloe Moses Masemene, the Minister of Justice, Human Rights, Rehabilitation and Law and Constitutional Affairs.

A recent UN country assessment found that 59 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and about 40 percent of Basotho fall into the "ultra-poor" category.

UNICEF Resident Representative Bertrand Desmoulins noted in a statement, "It should be emphasised that the AIDS pandemic has helped to focus more starkly on the plight of many other children besides orphans, who are in need of special protection."

Desmoulins stressed the need for "decisive action", and cautioned authorities against debate that did not lead to concrete results.

The new bill, which has been in the drafting stage for the past four years, covers family property, adoption, fostering, child-friendly courtrooms and language, mechanisms for monitoring child rights and substance abuse.

"The Child Protection and Welfare Bill is an excellent tool, and a monumental step forward to show the nation that we are not complacently watching our children suffer while they struggle to survive, but that we are rising up to the challenge and pledging our support," said Sefora Tsiu of the Department of Social Welfare.

UNICEF has called on parliamentarians to ensure that sufficient funds will be allocated for implementing the provisions of the bill.

"Parliamentarians have an obligation and are accountable to the people who elect them," Desmoulins noted. "The key sectors, civil society organisations and the UN system are willing to provide you with the necessary information, data and support to facilitate action and regular follow-up on the well-being of Basotho children."


Recent LESOTHO Reports
ARV treatment for children slowly becomes available,  19/Jul/05
Numbers of people in need increasing, WFP/FAO,  22/Jun/05
Food aid cuts loom due to lack of funds,  13/Jun/05
First ever national PWA network finally gets off the ground,  12/Apr/05
The need for treatment could jeopardise the quality of care,  6/Apr/05
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Youth against AIDS
Making a Difference for Children Affected by AIDS

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