Every June 16, UNICEF recognises the day as International Day of the African Child. This year, the focus is on the street children of Africa.
First initiated in 1991 by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), the Day of the African Child has been celebrated to honour the memory of those killed and the courage of all those who marched in Soweto, South Africa. In 1976, thousands of black school children took to the streets in a march more than half a mile long, protesting the inferior quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down by security forces that day, and more than a hundred people were killed and a thousand were injured in the following two weeks.
Each year, the Day draws attention to the lives of African children and of all actors involved in improving the condition of children on the continent. The 2011 theme of the “street child” focuses on the plight of those children (as termed by UNICEF):
- live in urban areas
- have family ties that are weak or non-existent
- are forced to develop survival strategies
- rely on the street as their main place of stay and for whom the street has replaced
- the family as a place for socialisation
- face specific major risks
An estimated 30 million street children live in Africa. The 2011 observance of this Day seeks to contribute to widespread awareness of the dangers street children face, promote the taking of urgent steps to protect them and determine strategies for providing effective child protection and care. Read more about the African Union’s African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child here.
On Thursday, 16th of June, MCT’s London-based team as well as some of its Morocco-based team will be present at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. From 4-8 p.m., MCT will be at the Student Union to share insight into the challenges that street children face, specifically in Morocco, and to show the documentary Ali Zaoua about street children in Casablanca. Come join us there in recognition of this day!