Bishop of Coventry calls for the protection of women and children who have fled Myanmar
Today, on the occasion of the Global Disability Summit, the UK Government became the first major donor of its kind to explicitly pledge support for family and community-based care for all children.
Championing families and not orphanages, Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, announced: “Orphanages are harmful to children and it is often those with disabilities who are placed in them the most. This needs to end, which is why I’m committed to the long-term plan to ensure all children grow up with a family of their own.”
An NGO alliance including Hope and Homes, Lumos, Save the Children and World Vision - have joined forces to echo the UK Government’s commitment and support global change for children trapped in orphanages, especially those with disabilities who are the furthest left behind. The launch ofthe new ‘Civil Society Compact [CSO Compact]’ sets out a pathway for change to help eliminate orphanages worldwide.
“Recognising that institutionalisation harms children – and that children with disabilities are overrepresented in institutions –we commit to work together toward eliminating the institutionalisation of children globally. Ensuring our organisations do not contribute towards the institutionalisation of children, directly or indirectly - and in line with international treaties and best practice, we share the UK Government’s pledge to enable all children to have the opportunity to realise their right to family care.”
World Vision is a proud signatory to the CSO Compact, which is set out in full below.
Now is the time for other governments, funders, companies and individuals to follow suit and invest in alternatives to orphanages so all children can thrive in families.
Recognising that institutionalisation harms children’s physical, emotional, psychological and psychosocial development, the undersigned organisations pledge to work toward the end of institutionalization of children and for the promotion of family-based care.
The occasion of the first Global Disability Summit makes this a particularly appropriate moment for this commitment, since children with disabilities are often the first to enter an institution and the last to leave.
In-line with international treaties and best practice, including the UN Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we share the UK Government’s pledge to enable all children to have the opportunity to realise their right to family care and, in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development, commit to leave no child behind in this effort.
We are committed to ensuring our organisations do not, either directly or indirectly, contribute towards the institutionalisation of children. We are also committed to coordinating our activities and resources to maximise our collective efforts to support the transition to family and community-based care worldwide. Specifically, we commit to coordinating around six key themes:
Raising awareness and understanding in a way that stops the flow of funding and resources in support of orphanages and other types of institutions, and helping to redirect this support to family and community-based solutions. We will also seek to influence our partners, supporters and donors to work in a coordinated way to do the same.
Encouraging the integration of child protection and care services with health and education support in order to promote family-based care and ensure that the wide-ranging needs of children with disabilities and their carers are met.
Advocating with decision-makers - international and national - to prevent the placement of children into institutions, and to ensure that legislation and policy are always derived from a locally developed evidence base on how to best combat the key drivers of institutionalisation.
Investing in (whether financial or in-kind) local partner capacity – civil society and local authorities – to effectively manage the transition from institutions to quality family and community-based care in ways that protect the rights of affected children.
Promoting the meaningful participation of children and young people - actively seeking out, listening to and acting on the views and opinions of the young people and children we work with, and where safe and appropriate to do so, giving them a platform to share their views and ideas more widely – paying particular attention to ensuring gender balance, and the inclusion of children with disabilities and other minority groups.
Researching and generating an evidence base about key issues such as:
· best practice interventions to address the key drivers of institutionalisation;
· the proliferation and poor quality of care in these institutions;
· ways to challenge the invisibility of children in institutions, especially children with disabilities;
· the most appropriate alternative care options for children who cannot live with their own biological family.
To achieve this we will work together to share our data, research findings, methodologies and support countries to gather better data and monitor outcomes for all children. In doing this we will seek to Increase the visibility and understanding of disability issues in children’s care and protection through wider research and routinely disaggregated data collection.
List of signatories
1. Save the Children UK
2. World Vision
3. Plan International UK
4. Human Rights Watch
5. Islamic Relief Worldwide
6. Disability Rights International
7. Hope and Homes for Children
9. DeafKidz International
10. Home for Good
11. Better Care Network
12. Friends International
13. Chance for Childhood
15. Forget Me Not Australia
16. Next Generation Nepal
17. One Sky Foundation
18. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children
International children’s charity - World Vision - has echoed calls by the Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who yesterday petitioned the government to do more to help vulnerable women and children who have fled Myanmar
This crisis is a deep human tragedy…and we must protect women and children
- Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth
The Bishop’s calls come as World Vision prepares to expand its emergency response in Bangladesh. This weekend the charity will distribute tarpaulins to help families build shelters. In the coming weeks, the global children’s charity will open child and women friendly spaces to support those who have experienced abuse or those at risk of violence.
Amy Johnson, World Vision UK’s Political Advocacy Officer, said, “Immediate funding of child protection programming is essential to ensure children’s well-being and survival during and after the crisis, but sadly it is often forgotten. We hope the Bishop’s call for greater protection of vulnerable women and girls will encourage the government to lead the way on child protection in this underfunded humanitarian response.”
“The new shelters we will start building from the weekend will give the refugees Child friendly spaces give children the psychosocial support they need to recover from the horrors they have witnessed.
A recent study by the International Organisation for Migration, showed that children constitute a staggering 58 per cent of all refugees that have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since violence broke out in August. The same study also revealed that children felt unsafe in 74 per cent of refugee sites.
World Vision staff on the ground have received reports that many of the women and children forced to flee have experienced sexual violence and they continue to be at risk of abuse in the overcrowded camps.
Margarettha Siregar, World Vision’s Bangladesh Humanitarian Response Manager, said, “The authorities are doing their very best to support the huge numbers of refugees that have poured across the border, but these makeshift camps are densely populated and the needs are overwhelming.”
We know from working directly with children in the camps that they have a number of competing vulnerabilities. They have seen and experienced the most brutal violence imaginable. Many are alone with no family to support them.
- Margarettha Siregar, World Vision’s Bangladesh Humanitarian Response Manager
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