Establish safe homes for displaced children in Upper East – Child Protection Officers

Bolgatanga, Social and Child Protection Officers in the Upper East Region have appealed to the government to establish safe homes for children in the region to help provide decent places for them during emergencies.

They made the call on the sidelines of a three-day capacity building workshop on the basics of Child Protection in Emergency (CPiE), organised by the Department of Children, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), with funding support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and held in Bolgatanga.

It brought together regional and district officers of the Departments of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare and Community Development, Development Planning Officers from 10 Municipal and Districts in the region including Kassena-Nankana and Bawku Municipals, Kassena-Nankana West, Bongo, Nabdam, Bawku West, Garu, Tempane, Pusiga and Binduri Districts.

Some security agencies such as the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana Police Service, Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) were also present.

Ms Rosemary Awiah, a Social Development Officer with the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Kassena-Nankana Municipal, explained that lack of safe homes for children in the region was affecting the service provided to children during emergencies.

She said apart from the private children’s homes, there was no single children’s home owned and managed by the state in the region, and monitoring of the children in the private Homes was difficult and had numerous challenges.

She noted that it was against professional and ethical practice for officers who rescued children from humanitarian crisis and other challenges to keep the children in their personal residence.

‘Sometimes, when you rescue the child during an emergency, getting a place to keep the child to enable you do proper assessment and investigation becomes a challenge, so we would have been very grateful if we could have one in the region,’ she said.

Ms Theresa Akugri, the Bawku Municipal Director of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, said during emergencies, children who were separated from their families were expected to be housed in special homes to receive the needed care but that was not the situation in the region.

She said, ‘whenever I get a child like that, I have to always travel to Bolgatanga for them to identify a private children’s home to take the child there but some of them are already choked and sometimes the monitoring is also difficult.’

Mr John Azaam, the Social Welfare Officer for the Bongo District explained that if a decent designated place were created within the districts or in the region for children in emergency, it would enable the social welfare officers to interact and provide the needed services to children rescued from emergencies.

Mrs Abena Aprekua Badu-Aboagye, the Principal Programme Officer, Department of Children at MoGCSP, explained that the training was to equip the participants with the necessary knowledge, experiences, and strategies to respond effectively, efficiently, and appropriately to humanitarian crisis and provide adequate protection for children in emergencies.

It was also part of efforts to position existing systems and structures to provide minimum standards of child protection for displaced children during emergencies especially with the influx of the migrants from Burkina Faso, she added.

Source: Ghana News Agency