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Report by NGOs on the implementation of the convention of the rights of the child

Rede Criança

Angola, February 2004

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Introduction

The Government of Angola signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 26th November 1989, ratifying it on the 10th November 1990, with resolution No 20 of the People's Assembly. According to article 44 1.a) of the CRC, each State Party undertakes to submit the first report within a period of two years after the convention enters into force in their respective country. However, the Government of Angola, in its initial report, states "because of internal conflict and the prevailing emergency situation during this period, the Government cannot fulfil its obligation to present the report in the given time".1

Considering article 45 a), NGOs were requested by the Geneva based NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child to opine on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Rede da Crianca, in partnership with the Intereclesiastic Committee for Peace in Angola - COIEPA and with the support of Save the Children Sweden, began a process of widespread and participatory collection of information. The partnership intervention organised five provincial workshops that included representatives from seven provinces. A total of 80 national and international NGOs were involved and a number of UN agencies and church groups. Twenty children from orphanages and schools in Luanda also participated. The report aims to compliment the report prepared by the Government of Angola.

1. General Demographic Characteristics and the Situation of the Child in Angola2

  • The Angolan population is very young. Around 50% of Angolans are children under the age of 15 and 60% are children under 18.
  • Most children in Angola are at risk, and according to UNICEF, Angola have some of the worst indicators in the world when it comes to children's rights violations and non-fulfilment of their rights. Almost half of Angola's children are out of school. 45 per cent suffer chronic malnutrition. One in four dies before their fifth birthday.
  • During the war 500.000 to 1 million Angolan's died of war-related causes, and over 4,5 million people were displaced. Large areas of the interior were cut off from government services, and much of the infrastructure was destroyed or abandoned. Around 100,000 children were separated from their families during the war.
  • 4.5 million children are not birth registered. (62% of total number of children).
  • Fertility rates are very high in the country, on average a woman gives birth to 7 children.
  • There are on average 91 men to 100 women.
  • Sixty-six percent of the population lives in urban areas and 34 percent in rural areas.
  • A third of Angolan girls of 18 years of age have already at least one child.
  • 27% of the households are headed by women.
2. Analysis of the Intervention of Organisations within Civil Society

Until the mid-nineties, work to benefit the well-being of the Angolan child was undertaken mainly by United Nations Agencies, international NGOs and churches in close collaboration with MINARS (Ministry of Social Assistance and Reintegration) and INAC (National Institute for Children). The Law of Free Association, which enabled the participation of Angolan civil society groups, was introduced in 1991 only and Angolan civil society groups are only recently growing in operational strength. Following the eruption of conflict in 1998, Angolan NGOs participated in the response to the needs of many displaced families and children, concentrated in provincial capital cities and inland areas less affected by the armed conflict

The cease-fire agreement was signed in April 2002. At this point, the national NGOs, for the first time, showed a greater independent capacity to respond to the challenge of the needs of children in the demobilisation areas. The sectors of intervention included health, human rights education and the promotion of programs of activities aimed at normalisation of life for children affected by war. At this time, the government, with the support of NGO partners, formed Child Protection Committees (CPC) at the national and provincial levels. Currently, there are also CPCs in some municipal areas. Furthermore, some civil society organistions have organised child-focused coalitions. These include The Child Network in Luanda, which has 40 member organisations, the Child Network in Huila, the Coalition for Free Schooling which has its headquarters in Benguela province and most recently the Child Network in Huambo.

The churches are involved not only in the promotion of better family values, but also in the areas of health, education and assistance to mothers including pregnant women. In partnership with the Ministry of Justice two churches are authorised to register births.

In spite of the involvement of national NGOs in the protection of the child there is still need for training in specific areas for example child protection, advocacy and fundraising to improve their activities.


Footnotes:
  1. Initial State Report, Draft December 2003, page 7.
  2. Data taken from Estrategia de Combate a Pobreza, Governo de Angola, 2003.


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