Child Protection: Gov’t & Plan International to Provide Alternative Care for Abandoned Children

The National Commission for the Protection of Children in Moral Danger, delinquent or abandoned, held its second session for the year 2023 on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in Yaounde.

The meeting chaired by Social Affairs Minister, Pauline Irene Nguene was placed under the theme: “Alternative Care for children without known family background.”

Several officials representing key administrations and the staff of Plan International Cameroon took part in this second session with a good number of stakes and challenges.

Speaking on behalf of the Country Director of the humanitarian organization, Plan International Cameroon, Dr Donkeng Eddy said: “Plan International is an organization that works for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. I will just remind you that the organization was created by a journalist who wanted to protect children in difficult situations.”

Dr Eddy Donkeng emphasized on the need to intensify actions that will help protect children, and on the ‘raison d’ être’ of this second session focusing on providing alternative care for children in distress.

“It is during these critical moments that the support of temporary foster families plays an essential role, given that every child has the right to a family, a child’s first line of defense is his or her family, every child has the right to a family environment, no child should be separated from his or her parents, and every child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment must be supported.” He narrated.

The Representative of the Country Director of Plan International also outlined the fact that the organization established in Cameroon for more than 27 years now, works closely with the government and other stakeholders for the inclusive protection of children. He said the humanitarian organization will not fold its arms until children’s rights are respected and become a reality.

“We shall not stop until this becomes a reality. Our children have to learn, manage, decide and in a healthy, secure, and protective environment, whatever the circumstances.”

Concerning its driven missions and goals, Plan International Cameroon has set the pace for effective collaboration with local communities, associations, partner organizations, and competent authorities.

According to Dr Donkeng Eddy, a holistic approach was developed to accompany not only children in distress but also families who temporarily host them. Most of these families welcome abandoned children, children who are victims of abuse, those affected by the crises, and those who are out of school for several reasons.

Plan International Cameroon in its quest for the well-being of children therefore seeks with government concrete solutions that will play a pivotal role in resolving the situation.

In her keynote address, Social Affairs patroness, Minister Pauline Irene Nguene praised the relentless efforts and support of development partners such as Plan International Cameroon and UNICEF who are constantly striving to protect children’s rights and who are engaged in this crusade alongside the government.

She said the protection of children at all levels is necessary for their development and their growth remains a major concern for the Government, and it is fully in line with the political thought of the President of the Republic, Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya.

The Minister exhorted the various members of the National Commission for the Protection of Children in Moral Danger, delinquent or abandoned to set up innovative and concrete actions that will positively contribute to advancing the situation of abandoned children in Cameroon.

At the end of the official opening session, Honorine Foumba, safeguarding and child protection country programme lead in Plan International Cameroon exchanged with media practitioners to reiterate the main objective of this come-together.

She said with the current crises affecting the country and the number of children in the streets of major towns, Plan International Cameroon is preoccupied with the situation and stands beside the government to seek appropriate measures for the care of abandoned children who need to be in a family for their well-being.

To tackle the phenomenon of abandoned children or those deprived of households, the government has created childcare institutions.

There are two types of institutions: Reception Centers for Distressed Children commonly known by their French acronym, CAED, and Childcare Centres.
To date, 04 CAEDs with a capacity of 40 spaces each, are functional in the capital Yaounde and Garoua in the North, Ambam in the South, and Ekondo Titi in the South West Region. A pilot Daycare Nursery with 60 spaces was opened in Djoungolo (Yaoundé).

Regulations are also taken to ensure the smooth functioning and organization of institutions catering to the little child.  This is the case of Decree 2001/110PM of March 2001 on the organization and functioning of government institutions catering to young children (day-care, nursery, and day nurseries). The effective implementation of the provisions of this decree will contribute to improving the management of the little child.

In addition to the government’s organization, the State has established an institutional framework (laws and decrees) promoting the involvement of private partners. The policy of child protection is strongly supported by the active action of various NGOs and associations in the legal, health, education, and psycho-social framework.

Elise Kenimbeni

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