Improve Laws to Protect the Children – UNICEF Representative


Betrand Bainvel, Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Jamaica, has called for further development of the country’s legislative arsenal to improve the state of the Jamaican child.
He has also called for advancement of the laws to eliminate discrimination related to HIV/AIDS and the expansion of treatment opportunities.
Mr. Bainvel was speaking at the launch of the State of the World’s Children, 2005 Report titled ‘Childhood Under Threat’, held in Fletchers Land in Kingston yesterday (February 23). The occasion was also used to present an updated situation analysis of Jamaican children.
Furthermore, he said the development of implementation and monitoring mechanisms must also be accelerated to enact the legislations. Mr. Bainvel added that the efficiency of the social services and safety nets also had to be improved.
He also said particular attention must be paid by policy makers to budgetary allocations for immunization, early childhood, primary education, and HIV/AIDS during the discussions on the new 2005/2006 budget.
The UNICEF representative appealed to community leaders and families to concentrate their efforts on halting the murder and abuse of children. He pledged the organization’s continued support in eliminating the threats to the welfare of the Jamaican child.
Data contained in the report showed that immunization rates in 2000 stood at 90 per cent, declining to 80 per cent in 2003, with the October 2004 preliminary figures showing a further slippage. In 2004 an estimated 5,000 children were orphaned by HIV/AIDS, with a projected 10,000 to 20,000 children living in households with HIV/AIDS. One hundred and nineteen children were murdered in 2004, while 430 were shot and more than 900 were reportedly victims of sexual abuse.
In his address, National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips noted that the threats to the welfare of the Jamaican child were “unacceptable for any self-respecting people and society”. He told the gathering that, “what we do to our children is going to determine the kind of country Jamaica will be in years to come”.
The Minister said the harsh realities outlined by the report, if allowed to persist, painted a picture of a dull future. Dr. Phillips further noted that on the issue of welfare and the future of Jamaican children, political affiliation was of no import as the matter called for solidarity. “To deal with the kind of future we want for our children, the full mobilization of all well thinking Jamaicans is required,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Senator Bruce Golding urged that the needs identified by the report be given attention. He noted that the fact that the problems identified were being experienced globally was no comfort, as Jamaica “could not afford to travel that road any longer”.
Mr. Golding said there was still much to be done to create a new awareness of the responsibility to children and the corporate nature of that responsibility. He said parents, communities and the government had a role to play in the development of the child.

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