World Children’s Day: Let the world take notice of the plight of Kashmiri children, Pakistan

Islamabad, 20 November 2020: On the occasion of World Children’s Day, commemorated each year on 20 November to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC), Pakistan reaffirms the right of every child to grow, learn, play and flourish in a safe, responsive and friendly environment, free of distress, hunger, fear and oppression.

As a party to the CRC and its two optional Protocols, Pakistan is committed to upholding the promotion and protection of human rights of all children and fulfilling its national and international obligations in that regard.

Pakistan has undertaken a range of institutional and legal measures to eliminate exploitation of children and their discrimination based on gender, religion and ethnicity. We remain committed to eradicating the incidences of violence against children, child labour and forced marriages, while ensuring that the right to food, education, health and healthy environment is available to all children of the country.

In August this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated the Ehsas Nashonuma Programme to provide food and nutrition to the underprivileged children and prevent their malnourishment and stunting of growth. Presently, 22 Nashonuma Centres are working in 9 districts. By the end of this year, the programme will be expanded to 52 centres in 12 districts. The districts have been chosen on the basis of prevailing rate of stunting. Under separate streams of Ehsas Programme, free education and scholarships are provided to the children of families living below the poverty line. These programmes prioritize focus on the girl child.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted multifaceted challenge for children in developing countries. A child’s vulnerability increases when the family faces rising debts, unemployment, poverty and disease. This year’s ‘World Children’s Day’ should serve as a solemn reminder to reinforce the global resolve for mitigating the health and socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children.

On the World Children’s Day, the plight of children in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) should not be forgotten. These children, living in one of the world’s largest prison, deserve urgent attention of the international community, particularly the United Nations. The over fifteen-month long physical and digital siege with frequent incidences of house demolitions, arbitrary detentions and use of force, including through pellet guns, have traumatized children in IIOJK and denied their basic rights to life, education and health. The international community must be sensitive to the plight of oppressed children in IIOJK and urge India to immediately stop its illegal and inhuman policies and practices that are in contravention of its own obligations under the CRC.

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