New project to “safeguard” children in British dependencies in the Caribbean

BRADES, Montserrat, Tuesday March 4, 2014, CMC – Britain has launched a three-year project aimed at safeguarding children in its four remaining dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean.

The project launched on Friday with the assistance of the United Nations children’s organisation, UNICEF, will focus on the most disadvantaged children and deal with the range of issues they face while growing up in the British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and British Virgin Islands

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) is funding the GBP1.8 million (one GBP=US$1.67 cents) project to develop new legislation, policies and programmes for children while reviewing government spending to improve the conditions of children and families.

The project is expected to tackle a range of problems facing children in the islands, including rampant child sexual abuse, officials suggested. 

But UNICEF’s Eastern Caribbean representative Khin-Sandi Lwin said the project will go beyond issues of child sexual abuse and help develop “political and community-level support to participating governments to design, develop and implement robust child safeguarding policies and practices.”

The funding will be used to generate “the up-to-date and reliable data needed to plan properly for children; develop sound national laws, policies and programmes for children; as well as determine how best to budget scare national resources to improve the conditions of children and their families,” according to a UNICEF statement.

“There are very difficult deep problems facing children and we won’t solve them with one project or two projects, but it will take a lifetime commitment to improve the safeguarding of children. A lot of work has been done to raise awareness of the problems and we must continue,” said Dr Mary Thompson, Social Development Adviser for Britain’s development agency DFID.

Thompson said she had already witnessed a readiness to confront some of the problems faced by children, such as child sexual abuse, and expected the new partnership to go a long way towards creating a more positive environment for children in the overseas territories to grow up in, according to UNICEF.

Montserrat’s Governor Adrian Davis said the DFID-UNICEF collaboration was a “sound one which should deliver tangible results to children across the territories”, the statement added.

Premier Reuben Meade said UNICEF gave both a governmental and personal commitment to ensuring the project’s success, urging a “total national partnership” to safeguard the interest of children.

“These issues have to be tackled as a broad based partnership so let us in the broadest possible partnership take forward this project as our own. DFID, UNICEF, our local organisations, including the church, our social clubs and a range of government organisations must be on board.” Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)