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Communique on Operation Restore Order
Working Group (CPWG)
August 25, 2005
We, the Child Protection
Working Group (CPWG) comprising representatives of international,
regional and local non-governmental organisations, faith-based organisations,
United Nations agencies and other interested parties working in the area
of child protection in zimbabwe, recognize that government of Zimbabwe
has the remit to maintain law and order and protect its citizens.
We have seen increasing
evidence that operation restore order has put many children at risk. The
members of CPWG emphasize that children are a particularly vulnerable
group in emergency situations and special measures should be put in place
to protect them from exploitation, abuse and violence. We are proud that
the Zimbabwean government is signatory to the convention on the rights
of the child (crc) and the African charter on the rights and welfare of
the child. We are, however, concerned that many of the obligations enshrined
in articles in the crc have been contravened under the current operation
restore order. We are also concerned that the operation is jeopardizing
many of the policies and programmes of the government such as the national
plan of action for orphans and vulnerable children.
The CPWG request an
immediate moratorium on the operation to enable a comprehensive and transparent
analysis of the impact of the operation on children.
As the operation is
continuing, more and more children are being displaced, with many experiencing
multiple displacements. The various transit camps (45% or more of the
population of which is made up of children) do not have the adequate minimum
standards required for the safe custody of children and the protection
of their rights to healthy growth and development. The following are some
of the main areas of concern that have directly affected children:
- Thousands of children
of school-going age have stopped attending school and those in exam
classes are being highly prejudiced.
- The risks of abuse
and exploitation to separated children as well as the long term repercussions
of prolonged family separation are enormous and have been well documented
globally. Thus far, hundreds of children have become separated from
their caregivers and siblings as a result of the displacement and continual
population movements. The removal of many of these children to institutions
is putting them at greater risk of long-term separation as their parents
re-locate to parts unknown.
- Children with disabilities
have special needs that cannot be accommodated in current arrangements.
- Children and their
caregivers, affected and infected by hiv and aids, have been made additionally
- In order to meet
their own and families' basic needs, children, especially adolescent
girls and boys, have resorted to risky activities which put them at
risk of exploitation.
In the best interest
of the child, the cpwg urges the government to consider the following
- An immediate stop
to the operation and appropriate measures are put in place to ensure
the protection of children already affected by the operation.
- Immediate access
is given to agencies working in child protection to assess the impact
of the operation and respond in line with the inter-agency guidelines.
- Immediate provision
of appropriate and safe shelter that complies with sphere standards
be made for the most vulnerable children and their families, such as
those with disabilities and child-headed households.
- Urgent measures
are made to enable children and adults living with hiv and aids to continue
treatment programmes and to have access to appropriate and quality health
care and home-based care.
- Activities to
prevent the separation of children from their families and to expedite
registration, tracing, appropriate family-based interim care, and family
reunification be urgently initiated and coordinated.
- Police, and other
personnel that have the potential to interact with the displaced children,
should be trained in prevention of family separation, child protection,
and in international and national legal instruments that are meant to
- To help normalize
the lives of affected children and prevent long-term social repercussions
of their experiences, activities to promote the psychosocial support
of children living in displaced situations need to be put in place.
Age-appropriate educational and recreational interventions for boys
and girls in displaced situations are urgently required.
The CPWG continues
to be committed to the protection of children and is supportive of any
measures implemented by the goz to ensure the best interests of children.
To this end, we aim to continue to build and maintain a collaborative
engagement with the government in an effort to provide quality services
to children affected by the operation.
These are everyone's
children and must be everyone's responsibility.
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