PM Douglas urges action to rectify challenges facing children

United Nations Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough (right) is greeted by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas during a courtesty call.

ST. KITTS, JUNE 4, 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said that while countries in the Eastern Caribbean have adopted and ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), most of them have opted not to ratify the optional protocols which is a cause for serious concern.

Dr. Douglas told the opening session of a two day meeting at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort that children rights had not been given the amount of attention that it deserves and that as the UNICEF meets to re-assess its role in the region, the message that needs to be sent out is that the sub-region is still lagging as it relates to its obligations to the CRC.

“The citizens of the country must have confidence in the system. Our task therefore is not only to pass legislation and to develop the various development protocols, our responsibility must also be to inform, raise awareness and educated them on the way the system works for protection of the children.

“Civil society and non-government organisations can play special roles in this regard. Ultimately the benefits derive are most evident when collaborative approaches are taken on the various issues.”

The Prime Minister said the review meeting was important given the various challenges facing children today.

“The task that we all have is being able to identify in what ways our children of the Eastern Caribbean are being impacted, assume responsibility, and ensure that speedy and appropriate systems and services are put in place to rectify our challenges.”

The Office of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) for the Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean is re-assessing its work in the Caribbean.

More than 100 stakeholders from across the region are attending the two-day mid-term review meeting of UNICEF that is also examining the organisation’s work programme for the next five years.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Health, Social Services, Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Hon. Marcella Liburd, said the twin-island Federation is now developing programmes and policies specially geared to protect children rights.

UNICEF representative to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Tom Olsen, said Caribbean children were at the cross-roads in terms of social development and that the programmes and policies of both UNICEF and regional governments need to be on the right track.

“We have to avoid more children falling into poverty, we have to find measures … to make sure that we move forward and to assure that our children complete their education. We have to ensure the creation of jobs and the quality of education and social policies are in harmony with the 21 century,” he told the opening of the meeting on Tuesday night.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, said the UN as a development partner was putting together a new framework for development assistance to the region, under the UN Development Assistance Framework and Multi- Country Programme.

“The question that needs to be considered is how the UN system as a whole can ensure that their contributions to the priorities are coordinated and coherent and best suits the development needs of the region.

“That we reduce the possibilities of duplication, that we ensure that the contributions that we make, looking at the various and many, many dimensions and challenges we have in development are complementary to each other,” she said.

The overall goal of the Multi-Country Programme is to contribute to the realisation of children rights by fostering an enabling and protective environment for them, reducing their vulnerability to social risks and enhancing their participation.

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