The Africa Platform on Children Affected by Armed Conflict (APCAAC) on Thursday welcomed the African Union (AU)’s adoption of two significant policies on child protection.
The AU Specialized Technical Committee on Defense, Safety and Security (STCDSS) during its meeting held in Ethiopia last month adopted two policies for the protection and enhancement of the welfare of children in situations of armed conflict in Africa.
The two policies were the Policy on Child Protection in AU Peace Support Operations and the Policy on Mainstreaming Child Protection into the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).
“These instruments are a significant milestone in responding to the severe violations of children’s rights in conflict situations in Africa,” the APCAAC said in a statement.
The APCAAC was established by the AU Commission, with membership from ambassadors of AU member states in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and also the headquarters of the AU, to strengthen advocacy and development of policies aimed at addressing the plight of children in conflict situations. The platform envisaged promoting the prioritization of children affected by armed conflict at various departments of the AU Commission and helping keep the issue at the center of policy making at the continental level.
The two policies envisaged mainstreaming child protection into AU institutional responses, from peacemaking to peace-building, and ensuring child protection in AU mandated, authorized or endorsed peace support operations toward preventing violations against children in armed conflict and promoting accountability in mission areas, according to the AU.
AU Commission Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Bankole Adeoye, who is also the co-convener of the APCAAC, highlighted the crucial importance of the two policy instruments.
“These instruments underscore the commitment of AU policy organs such as the Assembly and the Peace and Security Council, which have adopted decisions calling for the enhanced protection of children in conflict situations and the promotion of children’s rights in Africa’s peace, security and development agendas,” the statement quoted Adeoye as saying.
Jainaba Jagne, the permanent representative of The Gambia to the AU and co-convener of APCAAC, said that the two policies would help realize the AU’s commitments to the protection of children.
“The policies also contribute to achieving the commitments outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063, which is firmly committed to building an Africa that is fit for its children and also to investing in childhoods that are fit for a peaceful, prosperous and fully integrated Africa,” Jagne said.
According to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, the adoption of the policy instruments would contribute to efforts by the AU to address the impact of protracted conflicts and the scourge of terrorism on children. Among these impacts on children were killing, abduction, separation from families, trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse, recruitment into armed forces and armed groups, malnutrition, diseases and attacks on schools and healthcare facilities.
Meanwhile, the APCAAC called for the full and effective implementation of the recently adopted two policy instruments with commensurate resources. Enditem