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Committee intensifies child protection among residents, asylum seekers

The Upper East Regional Child Protection Committee has intensified community engagements on child protection issues with residents and asylum seekers in five districts within the Bawku enclave in the region.

The engagements which benefitted the Bawku West, Garu, Tempane, Binduri and Pusiga Districts were part of efforts of the Committee to ensure that the asylum seekers as well as the indigenes prioritised the welfare and growth of their children.

The intervention, coordinated by the Department of Children with funding support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was informed by activities of violent extremism in the Sahel region which had displaced several people particularly from Burkina Faso and compelled many to seek refuge in Ghana.

Apart from engaging some of the asylum seekers who were being hosted at the reception and resettlement centres at Tarikom in the Bawku West District, the Committee further engaged others who were being hosted by relatives in the various communities.

They were
taken through the need to prioritise their children’s education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), immunization, food and nutrition and child right issues such as teenage pregnancy, child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation among others.

Mrs Georgina Aberese-Ako, the Acting Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Children, said education was part of behaviour change communication strategy to enhance both residents and asylum seekers’ knowledge on child protection issues.

She said due to the emergency that forced the asylum seekers to relocate into the country, they were vulnerable and there was the urgent need to build their capacity on how to care for their children in the area of their rights, WASH, food and nutrition among others.

‘Child rights are universal, it does not matter where the child is and so it is necessary to engage them to protect their children from abuse,’ she added.

Apart from engaging the asylum seekers on their rights and responsibilities, Mrs Aberese-Ako indicated t
hat the Committee further sensitised indigenes to be guided by the influence of the asylum seekers to engage in some cultural practices that were unacceptable in Ghana.

‘The Population and Housing Census shows FGM practice was high among people around border communities and so our concern is that, that practice is done in Ghana,’ she added.

She added that apart from engaging the communities, the Committee had developed jingles in three local languages namely Bisa, Kusaal and Hausa which were being played on radio stations in the area while the Committee engaged in dawn and dusk sensitization to influence positive behaviour change.

Mr Mawuli Agbenu, the Upper East Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), who is also a member of the Committee, said apart from engaging the participants on child protection issues, the Committee further sensitized them on violent extremism.

The Regional Director urged both the asylum seekers and the indigenes to report any suspicious characters
to the law enforcement agencies for action to prevent any spillover of attack in the country.

Mr James Twene, the Acting Director of the Department of Gender, noted that the influx of asylum seekers into the region due to the Sahel crisis was not affecting the displaced persons particularly women and children but had also put pressure on residents of host communities and there was the need to sensitise them to enhance social cohesion.

He commended the government, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the Ghana Refugee Board, UNICEF, and World Vision among other institutions for playing various roles in responding to the humanitarian situation.

Source: Ghana News Agency