By Philip Yatai
Ilorin, – An NGO, Save the Future of Children Initiative (SAFIN) has called on the Kwara Government to develop social protection programmes to mitigate the impact of poverty on poor and vulnerable households.
The Chief Executive Officer, Mr Oyedele Olufemi, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin on Friday.
Olufemi told NAN at the sideline of a four-day training on Child Protection Case Management, organised by UNICEF, that poverty and other risk factors expose children to all manner of abuse, neglect, and violence.
He stressed the need for the government to designed pro-poor interventions that empower poor families, stressing that the best place for a child to grow is within a family.
“This is crucial because children become vulnerable with many of them being trafficked for child labour, domestic servitude, and prostitution when basic care and needs of the child are not available,” he said.
He also called on the state government to sustain the support UNICEF was currently providing for the reintegration of 113 children released from Borstal Institution, Ilorin, to cover other children in need of help.
He explained that the training was being conducted under the European Union-funded strengthening access to justice for children on the move and other vulnerable children project.
He said that project was designed to equip social workers, NGOs, and service providers with the needed capacity to facilitate the reintegration of the 218 children back to the community.
According to him, building the capacity of community-based NGOs and community-based organisations is helping to create a reservoir of professional social workers residing in communities closer to vulnerable children.
The CEO said that many of them needed psychosocial support for stability and to ensure that their dignity was protected.
“Those who want to go to school will be supported to go to school under the project; those who want to learn vocation will also be supported.
“The project will also provide holistic psychosocial support to both the children and their caregivers through community participation.
“We want to see how the children are socialising and interacting with other members of the community to live positive lives and grow to their full potential,” Olufemi said.
NAN reports that the 113 children were among the 218 children released from the Borstal Training Institution, Ilorin, in 2021 due to the anomalies surrounding their detention.
Their freedom was facilitated after a visit to the facility by UNICEF, Federal Ministry of Justice, Presidential Committee on Correctional Reform and Decongestion and United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.
Ms Nkiru Maduechesi, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Country Office, Abuja had explained that beyond the release, was the problem of psychological trauma, abuse, health issues and other challenges being faced by the children.
Maduechesi said that some of the children were being rejected by their parents and caregivers.
She said that to address the challenge, UNICEF in partnership with the Kwara government and SAFIN have tracked the released children and are working to reintegrate them back to the society. (NAN)