UNICEF lights Abuja gate ‘blue’ for World Children’s Day
ABUJA – Officials of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), government functionaries, children and lovers of children within Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Tuesday lit the popular City Gate ‘blue’ to commemorate this year World Children Day.
Nigeria joined Empire State Building in New York, Sydney Opera House in Australia, Petra in Jordan, the Beijing National Aquatics Center and Water Cube in China, and Eden Park in New Zealand – all national landmarks that were lit blue for children.
The activity was a symbol of need to re-commit to children’s rights and well-being.
The event marks the importance of drawing leaders’ attention to children’s rights in Nigeria and around the world.
The lighting comes with a global request asking individuals to sign a global online petition asking for ‘children to be put back on the agenda.
“We want to build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their potential – and nowhere is this more true than in Nigeria,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria.
He added: “No matter where a child is born – whether into wealth or poverty – they and their parents have the same hopes and dreams for their future. And we owe it to all children to give them a fair chance to survive and fulfil those dreams.
Meanwhile, UNICEF has called on leaders across the globe to recommit to child survival and development.
In a message to mark this year’s International World Children’s Day, the organization said the call came with a global request asking individual to sign a global online petition asking for ‘children to be put back on the agenda.
The statement, made available to Nigeria Health Online, noted that Nigeria has the world’s highest number of out-of-school children, and one of its highest rates of maternal, child and infant mortality.
More than four million children are unimmunized and tens of millions of Nigerians still do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation, putting children’s health at risk, the organization said.
It stated that diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria – combined with underlying malnutrition – are responsible for most of the deaths among infants and children in the country.
Nigeria’s burden of stunted growth among children is the second highest in the world, with 16.5 million affected, and the burden of severe acute malnutrition is high, with an estimated 2.6 million children severely acutely malnourished, UNICEF said.
Mohamed Fall, UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, was quoted in the release as saying: “We want to build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their potential – and nowhere is this more true than in Nigeria.
“A lot has been achieved – but there is still much to do to ensure that Nigerian children benefit from advances in child rights. At the moment, too many children are being left behind, and we need to reach them.”
“No matter where a child is born – whether into wealth or poverty – they and their parents have the same hopes and dreams for their future. And we owe it to all children to give them a fair chance to survive and fulfil those dreams.
“In partnership with the Nigerian government, we are determined to ensure that stronger investment will yield progress for all children in education, health – including ensuring routine immunization for all, nutrition and child protection.
“Nigerian children experience a wide range of abuses and harmful practices. An estimated three in five children have suffered one or more forms of violence before reaching 18, with over 70 per cent experiencing multiple incidents of violence.
“This World Children’s Day, we must recommit to children – knowing that for Nigeria to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we must invest in long-lasting institutional and community-based systems and policies for children’s survival, growth and development.
“Nigerian children have a huge role to play in the country’s national development. It is the generation of children growing up today who will take their place as Nigeria’s leaders tomorrow – and who will be able to take further – to really accelerate – the progress we make now.”