By Nelson Manneh
The National Youths Council with support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday, November 9 commenced a community-based dialogue on preventing sexual exploitation of children in the context of Tourism.
The main objective of the dialogue is to help protect children from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. The activity is designed to take place in four communities that are within the tourist designated area.
Mr Omar Bah a senior officer at the National Youths Council said many children especially within the Tourist Designated Area are sexually abused.
“This activity is designed for us to have a dialogue with these communities and also sensitise them on the effects of sexual exploitation of children in the context of Tourism,” he said.
Mr Bah added that tourists come to the Gambia for different purposes, including spending holidays and enjoying the sunshine, but said some come to sexually exploit children.
Mr Lamin Fatty, the Child Protection Alliance focal person, said tourism is an important sector that needs to be regulated to protect children in the country.
“Young people are catalyst of change and they need to be positive in anything they are doing. No matter how educated you are, if you cannot change lives then your education is useless,” he said.
He said The Gambia is now known to be one of the countries used for sexual exploitation.
Mr Markus Angula, one of the UNICEF representatives, said UNICEF works everywhere in the world to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and protect the rights of every child, everywhere.
“The world’s largest provider of vaccines, we support child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality education and skill building, HIV prevention and treatment for mothers and babies, and the protection of children and adolescents from violence and exploitation,” he said.
Angula reported that before, during and after humanitarian emergencies, UNICEF is on the ground, bringing lifesaving help and hope to children and families, adding: “Non-political and impartial, we are never neutral when it comes to defending children’s rights and safeguarding their lives and future.”
“The young people have a role to play in their various communities. They need to be each other’s keeper and amplify each other’s voice,” he said.
He said that UNICEF will continue to promote and also make sure that youth issues are addressed.