Foreign Policy Blogs

16th International Day of the African Child


Children in Africa are faced with a plethora of human rights violations in their daily struggles for survival. Parents and children in the west often take our freedoms, health and educations for granted, while on the continent of Africa diseases of the past still run rampant, child labor and the use of child soldiers impacts most of the continent. The 54 countries of Africa are diverse in numerous ways, but regardless of geography, economics, politics or ethnicity, one thing that links these countries together…children! The children of Africa are more often displaced, by force or urbanization than another continent, they are suffering more than any other from HIV/AIDS, while education and poverty are immense issues for most nations, as is the issue of child labor and trafficking.

Today, Saturday June 16, marks the sixteenth International, Day of the African Child. This years Day of the African Child is theme is dedicated to combating child trafficking, many believe that child trafficking effects over a million children in Africa. The first step in the fight to combat child trafficking is education and awareness, and thus this month in honor of the Day of the African Child, numerous events will take place across Africa to combat child trafficking.

Video by AFRUCA on Child Trafficking in Africa

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Organizations such as Plan International, have organized events across Africa today to increase community awareness and to educate children about their rights. Events include a televised concert, "Child trafficking , Africa don't waste your future', in Senegal; A blog to allow children to voice their views on child trafficking and child labor, Day of the African Child: stop child trafficking; essay competitions in Ghana, and in Togo there are exhibitions to help people understand the need for child participation.(Day of the African child on 16 June: Angola: Malteser International protects mothers and children from infection with HIV/AIDS)

Right To Play worked with government agencies and other children's organizations in Uganda to honor the day with events, such events included; The Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development and National Council for Children, is organizing public dialogs on: Child Slaves, “The Problem of Child Trafficking in Uganda” (Uganda: Right to Play – Day of the African Child). The issue of child trafficking and the use of child soldiers in Uganda has remained a serious problem, mostly with Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), who is known for it's abductions of children. The LRA in uses children as soldiers, agricultural and other types of forced labors, and girl's are often forced into sexual servitude and often marriage.

Video on Child Soldiers in Africa

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In a special press release issued to honor the International Day of the African Child, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, tells the stories of three victims of child trafficking in Africa.

“13 year old Eva is pretty and skinny and the way she carries her 4 months old baby shows the burden of her suffering. She was abducted on her way to school, gang raped, subject to forced nudity, and used as a sexual slave by a dissident armed group in Eastern Congo for more then 2 years. After several attempts, she managed
to escape and she realized that she was pregnant. Stigmatized and rejected by the communities, she roamed from one village to another before finding shelter in the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. The Center takes care of her baby while she goes to school but when you ask her about her future, she bends her beautiful face. ‘Her silent
answer and her whole story is the most heartbreaking one that I have ever heard’
, commented Ms. Coomaraswamy after meeting with her during her visit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The children in Africa have received an international day of recognition, however the true day of recognition will come when their voices are truly heard. Until that day children across the continent of Africa continue to suffer unjustly, their abusers receive little recourse for their actions, and the majority of the governments sit idly by. If we take today as an opportunity to share their stories of suffering and hope, then tomorrow may be a better day for some of the children in Africa. Do your part to increase awareness about the issues children face in Africa, especially regarding child trafficking, write your congressman and join forces with one of the many organizations working for the children.


African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

The Office of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict

The African Union

Malteser International

Plan International

Plan USA – Ways you can help International Day of the African Child (includes links to children's video shorts)

Right to Play


Stop Child Trafficking



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict