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Catholic Bishops in Zambia Mark Day of African Child with call to Protect Minors

Credit; Courtesy Photo

Members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) have, on the annual event of the International Day of the African Child (DAC), appealed to leaders in the Southern African nation to do “everything that is possible” to protect children from experiencing the trauma caused by humanitarian crises. 

In a Wednesday, June 16 video message, the Bishop Director for Education and Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults and Minors of ZCCB, Bishop Patrick Chisanga, highlights some of the situations that depict humanitarian crises in Zambia, including child labor, child marriages, abject poverty, limited access to education, poor health, food and nutrition.

Other social challenges that the Catholic Bishops in Zambia say are affecting children include inadequate supply of clean water, poor housing, COVID-19, as well as human-made disasters brought about by armed conflicts and dictatorial political regimes.

“I earnestly appeal to the civic and political leaders, traditional and religious leaders as well as to individual families to do everything possible to mitigate the impact and protect the children from suffering the trauma and long-life effects of the humanitarian crises,” they say.

ZCCB members “call upon all families and institutions that deal with children to put in place proper policies and to make deliberate steps towards the safeguarding of children from any form of abuse and harm, and creating a safe environment where every child can thrive and transition into mature and responsible adulthood.” 

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“While there are many facets to the injustices that children suffer, as we celebrate the day of the African Child this year, the Catholic Church in Zambia would like to see an environment where every child is loved, safe and cared for,” the Bishops say, adding that they are committed to “promoting an enlightened community where the rights of a child are upheld, respected and safeguarded.” 

Initiated in 1991 by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union (AU), DAC is a commemoration of South Africa’s Soweto uprising where students who marched in protest against an education inspired by the apartheid system were killed.

This year’s celebration is marked under the theme, “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: Accelerate implementation of Agenda 2040 For an Africa Fit for Children.”

In the June 16 message, ZCCB members underscore the need for minors to have “access to good and quality education” in line with the requirements of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).

The ACRWC sets out the rights and defines the norms and universal principles for the status of children.  

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Zambian government has put “a lot of effort” towards attaining quality education for the children, the Bishops say, adding, “There is a lot of work that is yet to be done.”

The members of ZCCB commit themselves to “continue providing quality education for all children, with particular focus on the most vulnerable in our urban as well as the remote parts of the country in order to complement the government’s efforts.”

“The Church further commits to continue giving the children an integrated learning experience that maximizes their physical, emotional, social and spiritual qualities and abilities,” the Bishops say in their June 16 message.