NGOs urge increased protection of children as COVID-19 battle rages on

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A CONSORTIUM of Non-Governmental Organisations has called for increased protection of children as the country battles the COVID-19 fearing that the pandemic has made them more vulnerable to abuse, prostitution and poverty.

At a press briefing recently, Media Network and Child’s Rights and Development (MNCRD) executive director Henry Kabwe appealed to government to ban children from frequenting public places such as markets and shopping malls.

The briefing dubbed ‘status of children during COVID-19’, Kabwe appealed to President Edgar Lungu to ban children movement from crowded places to protect them from COVID-19.

“If children catch the virus they cannot apply (preventive) measures accordingly,” said Kabwe while commending government for removing street kids from the streets during COVID-19 outbreak.

“We cannot allow children to grow on the street because at the end of the day, those children may become a liability to our society and government.

“Government will spend more money fighting crime rather than empowering them to become productive citizens of our society, “he said.

“Our appeal is that even beyond the COVID-19, let us make sure that we don’t see children on the streets.”

Kabwe revealed that his organisation had been working with the Ministry of General Education to ensure that early childhood education was expanded to learner’s between the ages of three and six years.

He urged government and parents to ensure that children who were not in school were able to access education services through television, radio and parental participation.

Also Speaking at the same event, SOS Children’s Village Head of Programs Dongo Yazi appealed to stakeholders to ensure the safety of children.

“Today, the debate is focused mainly on adults but we have a great risk if direct and indirect impact of children is ignored,” said Yazi.

Yazi added that the COVID-19 outbreak had exposed families to poverty that which could lead to child neglect and destitution amongst children.

“More than anything else, today we need support, solidarity and focus on what binds us and not what divides us,” Yazi said.

Meanwhile, Advocacy for Child Justice (ACJ) executive director Josphat Njobvu noted that the closure of schools and restriction of movement had disrupted children’s school calendar and social well being such as play.

Njobvu said COVID-19 had exposed children to beatings, sexaul exploitation and teenage pregnancy among other social ills.

And Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) Board Secretary Robert Sichula regretted that Zambia was among the 1.5 billion learner’s that were facing educational challenges globally.

By Tito Kalama @Kalemba May 16, 2020

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