Selebi Phikwe — Government is committed to the wellbeing of children, says the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Mr Frans Van Der Westhuizen.
Speaking during the Day of the African Child commemoration in Selebi Phikwe on June 18, Mr Van Der Westhuizen said government recognised that children needed love, protection and support to grow into responsible citizens.
"Our children are precious and they need our protection and support so as to avoid future costs of wasted potential, reduced productivity and even lost lives resulting from our complacency," he said.
The day was held under the theme: Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children's Rights First.
Mr Van Der Westhuizen, who is also MP for Kgalagadi South, further said children were highly affected during difficult times because of their dependency on other people for survival and protection due to their lack of resources to draw on to prepare for, manage and cope with and to recover from disaster.
He said it was therefore imperative that special attention be paid to their protection, survival, and development amid all situations.
He said the country may have not experienced disasters in the magnitude and variety experienced by other African countries, but 'we continue to deal with the effects of such disasters as people are displaced and families are separated'.
The minister said this had resulted in a spill over into the country's borders, hence the refugee and migrant situations.
One of the main cornerstones for development as a country, he said had been taking deliberate efforts to make provision of basic needs and services accessible to children and their families.
In the quest to safeguard the rights of children during disaster times, he said the government and its partners had continued to facilitate interventions towards the promotion of humanitarian action to respond to the aftermaths of all disasters.
He further said the Children's Act of 2009 had paid attention to promotion of children's rights, adding that through this law, children should be provided with services as they may require for their sustenance.
UNICEF Representative, Ms Tuduetso Kelapile called on all stakeholders, civil society, traditional leaders, parents, policy makers and private sector to play a role in ensuring that children's rights were prioritised.
"With concerted efforts, we can create a country where every child has a fair start in life and they grow to become prosperous individuals that will take Botswana to greater heights," Ms Kelapile said.
She said children and youths held the key to building strong, peaceful societies as envisioned as part of the 2030 Development Agenda and Vision 2036.
"This is an opportune time for Botswana to reflect on making the right investments for children, especially that the country aspires to be a high-income country by 2036," she said.
MP for Selebi Phikwe West, Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse said children's rights were important, hence they should be respected, adding that it was high time the country included socio-economic rights in the constitution.
Source : BOPA