Budget 2018: UNICEF South Africa highlights its implications for children

UNICEF South Africa acknowledges the South African Government’s commitment to ensuring a balance between financial stability and ensuring the progressive realisation of children’s social and economic rights.
UNICEF is pleased to note that total government expenditure is projected to increase by an average of 1.9 per cent in real terms over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period and spending on some of the services that benefit children will grow faster than overall expenditure over the next three years. This means that transfers to non-profit organisations (mainly to deliver education and child and social welfare services) will increase by 5.3 per cent, household transfers will increase by 4.7 per cent. In addition, the child support grant and child care and dependency grant will increase by around 3 per cent, and overall spending on the social development and health sectors will increase by 2.3 per cent.

At the same time, more than R1.2 billion has been aside to combat violence against women and children and to smooth transfers to social welfare NGOs that deliver critical services at the provincial and district levels. This is indicative of the government’s vision that linking cash to the poorest and most marginalised children combined with intensified care and protection is likely to deliver larger and positive social benefits.

While these developments are encouraging, UNICEF is concerned about specific funding challenges for child-focused services, which may impact the realisation of children’s social and economic rights. Some of these include:

  • Funding cuts to provincial baseline budgets, thus increasing pressure on service delivery departments to reduce essential services for children;
  • Limited support to expand early childhood development services and less financing of NPOs;
  • Reduced capital investments in education and health at the provincial level, which may delay the roll-out of direly-needed infrastructure in under-resourced areas;
  • Unpaid provincial bills, especially in the health sector, which, given the country’s current health challenges, remain a concern.In view of the budget challenges, we welcome the reference that was made in the State of the Nation Address for the corporate sector to complement government spending on child care and social services for children to enhance an accelerated investment in human capital over time.
Recognising that investment in children’s services takes time to produce tangible results, UNICEF stands ready to assist the government, civil society and corporate sector to better the lives of children in South Africa.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Information Centre in Pretoria (UNIC).

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Source:: Budget 2018: UNICEF South Africa highlights its implications for children


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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes launch of birth certification for Malian refugees in Mbera camp

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the launch of birth certification for thousands of Malian refugee children in Mbera camp, in south-east Mauritania.

In a ground-breaking development for refugee protection in the country, the Mauritanian authorities have started issuing birth certificates for some 7,600 Malian children that were born to date in the camp. They have also set up a system allowing for all new-borns in the camp to be directly registered from now on.

Birth certificates will help fight early and forced marriages, as proof of age can be crucial in identifying such cases and providing evidence to the referral institutions. In 2017, UNHCR recorded 97 cases in Mbera camp, but we fear that many more may go unreported. Together with partners, our teams are working to identify and assist children at risk.

Proof of age will also play a significant role in the eventual voluntary repatriation of the refugees, should security conditions in Mali allow.

The birth certification exercise was launched mid-February by the country’s population registrar. UNHCR collaborates with authorities to strengthen their technical capacity for the civil registration of refugees, and to provide life-saving assistance in the camp, such as food and water, education and medical services. We also work to lay the groundwork for establishing a national asylum system.

Since 2012, widespread insecurity in northern Mali has triggered displacement into Niger, Burkina Faso, as well as Mauritania which now hosts over 51,000 Malian refugees. Some 1,200 Malians were registered in Mbera in January this year alone. Refugees share accounts of threats, extortion and summary executions by armed groups, along with gruelling living conditions in their areas of origin.

We are particularly worried at the lack of funding for our operation in the country. Despite the US$20.1 million required for our operation in Mauritania in 2018, UNHCR has yet to receive any contributions. This means that the living conditions of refugees could further worsen, with food and water shortages, poor sanitary conditions, increased risk of disease and cuts to education programmes in Mbera.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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Source:: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes launch of birth certification for Malian refugees in Mbera camp


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Kano Youth Rugby Championships 2018 – Bigger and Better

Eight hundred Kano youth enjoyed a day of non-stop Rugby action at SAS Stadium, Kano last Thursday. Boys and girls, junior and seniors, schools and communities competed in eight different categories to win trophies as well as school fees for each winning team.

Once again, The Kano Rugby Grand Patron, His Highness The Emir of Kano; Muhammad Sanusi II graced the occasion, and this year, we also enjoyed the support of Acting Governor Kano State Prof. Hafiz Abubakar as well as the Deputy High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, Harriet Thompson.

Watched by an additional two hundred school children and supporters, all those present agreed the tournament was not just bigger, but the rugby was of a higher standard than previous years. Credit must go to the iTry coaches and organisers who delivered the event, proof that rugby has taken hold in Kano State.

The winners were:

⁃ Junior Girls Touch Rugby – Ahmadiyya College
⁃ Junior Boys Touch Rugby – Minjibir Community
⁃ Senior Girls Touch Rugby – Basic College
⁃ Junior Boys Schools Touch Rugby – Basic College
⁃ Junior Boys Tackle Rugby – Barewa II
⁃ Senior Boys Touch Rugby – Minjibir Community
⁃ Senior Boys School Tackle Rugby – Aminu Kano Community College AKCC
⁃ Senior Boys Tackle Rugby – Barewa

A first this year was the introduction of teams from rural Kano State. Funded by a grant from Palladium Group, this expansion paid dividends as the community team from Minjibir won two finals! Jogana and Gezawa performed creditably whilst schools from the Kura axis watched on, eager to join the programme.

As well as encouraging sport and education, the event promoted health in the form of sickle cell genotype awareness via Sickle Scan test kit.

The event was a great example of collaboration and the following parties are thanked for their contributions:

Palladium Group
CFAO Solidarity
British Council
Assene Laborex
Gongoni Group
Cool FM Kano
Toyota Tshusho
Northern Nigeria Flour Mills
Jubailu Bros.
Iceberg Water
Prince Hotel
Medicus Labs
Kano State Sports Commission

Looking forward to 2019!!

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF).

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Source:: Kano Youth Rugby Championships 2018 – Bigger and Better


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Penny Mordaunt represents UK Prime Minister at Sahel Conference

Representing the UK Prime Minister alongside world leaders including President Macron of France and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ms Mordaunt announced further support to help strengthen security across the Sahel, where extremist groups including Da-esh, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram often operate freely.

The Sahel area of Africa (Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso) is beset by trafficking, violence, instability and extremism – which present significant future risk to the UK. The Sahel also has the fastest growing population in the world and the humanitarian situation is acute and precarious – 21.7m people don’t have reliable access to their next meal.

As announced by Prime Minister Theresa May and President Macron of France at the UK-France Summit last month, the UK is providing £50m of lifesaving UK aid to the area, three chinook helicopters for strategic airlift and considering options to enhance UK diplomatic presence in the Sahel – in order to tackle significant future threats.

The additional support announced today will help improve the accommodation of Niger’s army, who are currently living in tents while tackling armed groups along the border with Mali, and will contribute to emergency medical evacuation airlift provision.

The International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

“The Sahel is one of the poorest places in the world, where over 40% of people struggle to live on less than $2 a day, and where violence, conflict and extremism are widespread.”

“It’s essential we act now with our European partners to help the Sahelian nations build security and stability, while continuing to deliver emergency humanitarian aid to those in desperate need.”

“By helping to keep hundreds of thousands of people safe from starvation and harm, we are tackling the causes of both migration and terrorism, to keep Britain safe.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department for International Development (DFID).

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Source:: Penny Mordaunt represents UK Prime Minister at Sahel Conference


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