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25 May: Press Statement by Almajiri Child Right Advocates on the Second Annual Almajiri Child Rights Day

Nigeria, and the world, cannot achieve the SDGs by 2030 without resolving the Almajiri Child Rights crisis!

Being the Text of a Statement by Almajiri Child Right Advocates on the Second Annual Almajiri Child Rights Day – 25 May 2019

Today, the Almajiri Child Rights Initiative is joined by child right advocates in Nigeria and across the world to mark the 2nd Annual “Almajiri Child Rights Day” to draw and focus attention to one of the world’s most abused sets of children.

Last May, in marking the inaugural day, we pledged to engage critical stakeholders, especially actors and benefactors, civil society, government at all levels, as well as the local and international community towards developing and implementing policy that offers a long-term solution for returning dignity to the life of the #AlmajiriChild. Since then, we have witnessed some level of change in the narrative and a National Child Destitution Bill at the 8th Assembly.

But our slow response belies the urgency of the crisis. 11 years from now, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hope to have eliminated hunger, ensured decent work for all, and achieved 15 more things aimed to #LeaveNoOneBehind. At our current pace, over 10 million Almajiri children will be part of those who have been failed by the rest of us. It is for this reason that the theme for 2019 is Almajiri Child Rights and the SDGs.

So how does the plight of Almajiri children specifically tie to the individual goals?

Goal 1 – Poverty
Socially disadvantaged communities are only able to chart a course for social mobility through education or improved incomes that support extended families. In the case of the Almajiri, the absence of these two ingredients leads to the risk of multigenerational poverty.

Goal 2 – Zero Hunger
Food is a fundamental human right and a primary factor in the health and growth of children in their formative years. With millions of Almajiri children facing nutritional challenges that are aggravated by daily street begging and large numbers going to bed hungry, our path to ensuring zero hunger will suffer a false start.

Goal 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing
The living conditions of Almajiri children leave most traumatized. When they fall sick, a significant number die from preventable diseases such as malaria due to lack of access to basic primary healthcare. A business-as-usual trajectory will continue to deprive an entire population of proper mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as basic care.

Goal 4 – Quality Education
There is global consensus regarding the importance of rights to equitable and quality education for every child as license for a bright future. Millions of Almajiri children are denied a fair shot at basic education and the possibilities it presents. Whereas Almajiri children may carry potentials for becoming world beating doctors, engineers and leaders, these will never be achieved since they are educationally disadvantaged.

Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
Almajiri children live in some the shabbiest conditions imaginable with poor hygiene and sanitation, and in lots of instances, no access to clean drinking water. Some are exposed to contaminated stream water where many get infected with water borne diseases.

Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth
The prospect of Nigeria reaping a demographic dividend for rapid economic growth is largely dependent on quality education and relevant skillsets for children and young adults. Again, a business-as-usual trajectory for Almajiri children will leave them chasing menial jobs like shoe shinning, wheelbarrow pushing and manual labour in an everchanging global economy. Not only will the contribution of these incomes be negligible for national economic growth, but the jobs themselves face an increasing threat from technology and automation.

Goal 10 – Reduced Inequality
Article 1 of the universal declaration of human rights states that every human being is born free and equal in rights and dignity. Yet, Almajiri children experience some of the worst forms of marginalization and rights deprivation in recent history. Besides lack of access to education, healthcare and decent work, Almajiri children are also deprived of the opportunity to participate in society.

Goal 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Inequality and lack of social justice breed violence and can undermine sustainable peace and strong institutions. Millions of Almajiri children are exposed to abuse and exploitation at very young ages. They grow up not knowing love, hope, or a sense of belonging and quickly develop a feeling of being cheated as they understand their environments. This makes them malleable tools for crime and violent extremism.

Furthermore, a lack of accountability from parents, communities and government denies Almajiri children access to social justice.

Today we are joined by child rights advocates in 15 states in Northern Nigeria and 4 countries across the world to demand increased investment in education, public consciousness and support towards the innocent children caught in the Almajiri phenomenon.

We are also launching a campaign to collate 13.2million signatures – #13millionsignatures – representing the estimated total number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

We call on
The Nigerian Government to immediately set up a multi-stakeholder task team to come up with a unified position on how to address the social, educational, nutritional, and security situation of the #AlmajiriChild including a medium-term enlightenment plan for building consensus with actors and benefactors.

Members of the 9th Assembly of the Nigerian Legislature to pick up where their predecessors left and pursue an all-encompassing solution to child destitution in Nigeria.

SDG advocates in Nigeria and our friends across the international community to add their voices to the plight of the #AlmajiriChild by joining the #13millionsignatures campaign

With at least 8 of the 17 SDGs interconnected to the plight of Almajiri children, it simply means that nowhere in the world are child rights as critical to the attainment of SDGs as Northern Nigeria. It is an urgency driven by both time and demography that neither Nigeria nor the world can afford to miss if we are to meet our global targets by 2030.

Thank you.

Mohammed Sabo Keana – Team Lead
Abubakar Abdullahi – Board Member
Mr. Hayatudeen – Head of Central Working Committee
Yusuf Umar Usman – Head of Operations
Sarah Dantsoho – Head of Projects
Khadijat Shuahib – Program Associate
Aisha Bindawa – Kaduna State Coordinator
Hauwa Tango – United Kingdom
Mohammed Abdullahi – Yobe State Coordinator
Tajuddeen Yahaya – Kano State Coordinator
Muhammad Abdullahi -Yobe State Coordinator
Usman Tahir – Niger State Coordinator
Haruna Adamu Tsafe – Zamfara State Coordinator
Baba Mushemi Lawan – Borno State Coordinator
Usman Muhammad – Gombe State Coordinator
Aliyu Yusuf Umar – Jigawa State Coordinator
Dr. Ahmad Sani Bala – Plateau State Coordinator
Sani Dantuni Bello – Sokoto State Coordinator
Hamza Kaita – Katsina State Coordinator
Abba Aliyu – Bauchi State Coordinator
Nafz Isah Bello – Borno State CWC
Princess Zainab – Sokoto State CWC

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