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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Unicef optimistic UAE could be key partner to end violence against children

Biggest challenge for Arab region is different ministries working together, separate budget for child protection

Unicef said it hoped it could soon count the UAE among 14 nations committed to accelerated action on child rights with transparent, monitoring and assessment.

Sweden, Sri Lanka and the Philippines were among those listed as key “pathfinding countries” in Unicef’s Global Partnership to End Violence against Children in a powerful movement that brings together governments, law enforcement agencies and civil society in a three to five year clearly defined child-centred, evidence based and solution focused programme.

“There is a very high level of government commitment from the UAE and we are very optimistic,” said Susan Bissell, director of Unicef’s Global Partnership at the 5th Arab Regional Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in Dubai on Monday.

There was also interest from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan in the project.

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The biggest challenge faced by Arab nations was different levels of government working together on child protection, she said.

Setting aside finances and allocating resources specifically for child protection to back implementation was also a measure of success.

Some 77 countries including the UAE are part of Unicef’s WeProtect alliance to end sexual exploitation of children online.

Inclusion as a pathfinding country to end violence against children required coordinated government policy with involvement of health, education, social welfare and interior ministries charting a road map and availability of statistics on abuse.

“The document says this is the situation in the country and these are our plans on trafficking, child labour and abuse,” Ms Bissell said.

“The road map turns into an action plan to be implemented within a time frame and the country also puts in place monitoring and evaluation. The region is in the same position as so many parts of the world. We are having conversations here that you would not 25 years ago so it takes time to put legal and policy frameworks in place.

Our goal in the partnership is to build and sustain political will and one of the best measures of whether it is real or not is whether you put the finances and the time into implementation and that is what is happening right now.”