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Mali : A protective environment for all children
iThe crisis experienced by Mali since January 2012 has sadly not spared its children and considerable cases of violations of fundamental rights have been raised. In addition, its structural aspects (poverty, burden of some traditions, etc.) and institutions (insufficiency in the coordination of the programmes, insufficiency in the knowledge at application of the rights of children, etc.) continue to jeopardize the commitments taken by the government. Thus, although some significant advances have been undertaken in the domain of children’s rights, a number of challenges still remains. The Malian government, committed to reform its national system for the protection of children since 2008, has realised the necessity of taking into account new situations caused by the crisis. Known for its expertise in regards to the rights of the child and for the protection of migrant children, the Foundation ‘Terre des hommes’ (Tdh) has been invited to participate in the process and provided its contributions.
Reinforcement of the protection of migrant children
Conscious of the challenges particular to the present situation in Mali (http://www.tdh.ch/en/countries/mali), Tdh wants to bring particular attention to children in relation to migration (http://www.tdh.ch/en/news/migrant-refugee-children-protection). With a group of stakeholders from the project ‘Mobility’, whose first objective is to assure the protection of unaccompanied migrant children, Tdh has showcased a set of key messages that have served them in their Malian children’s aid mission:
1. All children affected by mobility have the right to protection taking into account their best interests.
2. With this aim in mind, some protective measures aimed to assure the security, the dignity, the personal development and the respect of migrant children must be established.
3. These mechanisms – established at local, national and international levels – necessitate the conciliation of local social norms, national laws and international standards.
4. A national system for the protection of childhood, through application of measures covering supportive protection, must embrace the specific needs of children affected by mobility.
5. The actual participation of children is an essential element to include in the protective measures without exempting adults of their responsibility to protection.
6. Human trafficking must be combated, but all children affected by mobility are not victims of trafficking. Thus, specific measures for children in situation of mobility must be taken in order to avoid assimilating all movement of child as trafficking.
7. Finally, it is essential to promote, encourage and support areas of exchange between the different stakeholders concerned (states, civil society groups, technical and financial partners, etc.).
Starting from these guiding principles, Tdh has consecrated the important part of its appeal to the Malian authorities in order to achieve a clear objective : to make each child, independent of his position, able to benefit from adequate protection. Its recommendations have been heard: some global aspects for the promotion and protection of children’s rights, and particularly some specific aspects for the protection of children in situation of mobility have thus been integrated into the National Policy for the Promotion and Protection of Malian Children and in the government’s plan of action for 2014-2018, in the course of being validated. From now on, the NGO’s intervening in Mali will tailor their actions to this intervention logic.
Proud of its contribution, Tdh intends to encourage similar measures in other countries where it is engaged. At the moment, a similar process is being pursued in Benin (http://www.tdh.ch/en/countries/benin-and-nigeria).