Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font


This past Monday, the nation woke up to a shocking story of two children who were reported to have been denied their basic right to health because of their disability. UNICEF received such news with deep disappointment.

While we observe, and really appreciate that relevant authorities, especially the government, have promised to investigate this story further, UNICEF wishes to remind all of us about our individual and collective legal and moral responsibilities towards safeguarding the rights and interests of all children, including those living with disabilities.

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland guarantees equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals, and specifically mandates an inclusive society for all including Persons with Disabilities. Section 4 of the Children’s Protection Welfare Act states that no child shall be discriminated against on the grounds of disability. Section 11 of the same Act states that a child with disability has a right to special care, medical treatment, rehabilitation, family and personal integrity, sports and recreation, education and training.

UNICEF remains encouraged by the strides made by the government towards creating a Swaziland where children are free from abuse, and have equal access to free quality education, nutrition and other services.
We appreciate and fully support the role played by the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland, civil society organisations, United Nations partners, Faith-Based Organisations and communities in ensuring that all children, particularly those from vulnerable groups such as those living with disabilities, enjoy their universal rights, so that they also grow up and enjoy all benefits of childhood.

We do not wish to see any child being discriminated against on the basis of gender, religion, race, economic and social status, and particularly disability.
UNICEF’s vision is to build a world in which all children, especially those who are vulnerable, can grow up healthy, protected from harm and are educated so that they can reach their full potential.
Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) specifically calls on duty bearers to take necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of conflict, emergency and disaster, signifying the importance of the issue.

UNICEF is committed to strengthening disability-inclusive humanitarian action, which means that emergency preparedness and response promote and protect the rights of children with disabilities, as well as their families, to survive and to live with dignity, while benefitting the community at large.

We are aware that the current drought situation continues to put pressure on already strained resources, which places an enormous amount of emotional strain on parents because of the challenges it has imposed on families and communities.
But we appeal to all of us to strive to protect children and ensure that they are not worse off.

Research and studies tell us that more often than not, children with disabilities are particularly at higher risk of deprivation and exclusion, often lacking access to basic services such as education, healthcare as well as water and sanitation.
Their voices are not heard in society. Disability also places them at higher risk of physical abuse, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies.
UNICEF wishes to re-iterate its commitment to supporting Swaziland respond to the impact of the current drought situation particularly on children, as evident in on-going government-led multi-stakeholder partnership.

Rachel Odede
UNICEF Swaziland

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image: