Goal 16 is one of the key focusses of our work.

SDG 16.2 “End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”.

This is the core of our direct support work, delivered through our SAFEChild project. The numbers involved are shocking. In the first three months of 2017 alone, our SAFEChild project has supported nearly 100 children and has carried out just under 3000 interventions – whether that’s providing a safe bed for the night, a nutritious meal, a visit to check up on how they are doing, or a counselling session – the list goes on.  And many of these children have suffered significant abuse – multiple sexual abuses, witchcraft accusations, severe violence, ongoing neglect. They have complex needs and need long term support. I’ve met some of these children, I’ve seen myself the difference this support means to them, andI’m so grateful to all of our supporters and donors who mean we can keep this work going.

These are all things that should be provided by the government – it is they who have the primary responsibility to protect and support children, as stated by both Nigerian and international child rights laws. But one of the main problems we face is that child protection systems in Nigeria are simply not currently fit for purpose. There are a number of reasons for this – lack of funding, corruption, poor knowledge of child rights and how children should be supported, and community mistrust of government services such as social welfare and the police. There is also work going on to strengthen these systems, and we are very proud that some of our partners in Nigeria are advising UNICEF and the government on how to do this! But it takes time to set up, test and refine new systems, both practically and politically, and in the meantime there are many, many children who need support. That’s why SAFEChild and the services it provides to children is so important.

Aimee Smith