DR Congo

African Child Day: Launch of a joint child protection campaign by MONUC and the Congolese Police

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On Saturday June 16 2007, the sixteenth international African Child Day will be commemorated throughout the African continent. MONUC's Child Protection Division and the Congolese National Police (PNC) decided to link their efforts to celebrate this day through a joint campaign for child protection, from June 16 to November 20, 2007.

The situation of the child remains precarious in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is characterized by many rights violations. On the one hand this campaign aims to further sensitise the PNC on child protection while reinforcing their capacities and, on the other, to make it a child protection organ of excellence, through specialised units.

To celebrate African Child Day and mark the launching of the campaign, a press conference will be held on Thursday June 14, 2007, at 11am in MONUC's Kinshasa Headquarters. In attendance will be the DRC Ministries for the Interior and the Condition of Women and Family, the General Inspectorate of the PNC, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as MONUC Police.

A special programme on Radio Okapi (Okapi Action) will be broadcast on June 15 2007, to speak about the role of the PNC for child protection during family breakups. Educational sketches, talks and parades will be presented at Lufungula Camp in Kinshasa, with the participation of many children, during another ceremony on June 16, chaired by the PNC Kinshasa Provincial Inspector.

African Child Day was instituted in July 1990 by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now called the African Union (AU), in commemoration of the massacre of children in the black suburbs of Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 16, 1976.

On that day, black students and schoolchildren had gathered to protest against the apartheid government's obligation for blacks to study in Afrikaans, the language of the principal white community of the country.

The demonstration quickly became a riot because the police force, which had received instructions to restore order at all costs and by all means, opened fire on the crowd, killing more than 500 and wounding 1,000. Since then, this day is commemorated by the whole of the African community through various reflection themes.

Beyond the historical dimension of this commemoration, it acts, for the African states preoccupied by the well being of their children and thus of all on the continent, to give a progress report on the situation of the child in their respective countries, especially of the child in difficult situations.

It also aims at deepening the thinking on certain specific problems, and of taking suitable measures in order to ensure the greater comfort of any child.