Colombo, March 6 (NIA) – A UN agency, on Monday said that in Sri Lanka, violence against children, including physical abuse in the home remained a concern and whilst the rate of extreme poverty was declining, child poverty rates remained higher with pockets of extremely high vulnerability across the nation.
The UNICEF in a statement said that Sri Lanka, home to 8 million children under 18, had some of the region’s best health indicators, almost universal primary schooling, with nearly 90% of the population having access to safe drinking water.
However the UN agency noted that violence against children and child poverty rates remained a concern.
In order to address the issue, the UNICEF said four Sri Lankan parliamentarians, joined fellow lawmakers from across South Asia in the first meeting of ‘The South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children’, to agree ways to prioritise and safeguard children’s rights in a region that is home to over 1.7 billion people including 621 million children under the age of 18.
The two day event, which took place last week, was organised by UNICEF South Asia in coordination with the Parliament of Nepal, and took place in Kathmandu.
The UNICEF said that despite economic growth and consequent improvements in realizing the rights of children, massive disparities still existed preventing children from living in dignity, reaching their full potential and making choices about their futures.
“Even though our indicators are really good, we still have issues like child marriage, school drop-outs and migration affecting children,” Sri Lankan Parliamentarian, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, said speaking at the first meeting of ‘The South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children’.
“Children remain at the heart of a country’s development and future economic growth. We need to invest more in policy reform and budgetary allocation in order to address the remaining disparities that prevent every child, especially the most vulnerableand marginalized, from reaching their full potential,” she added.
UNICEF said that it worked to ensure that every child, especially the most vulnerable, deserved a fair chance in life – a chance to access quality healthcare, enjoy a quality education and to contribute fully to a peaceful and prosperous future for themselves and their communities.
By bringing together parliaments from across the South Asia region to speak on behalf of children, UNICEF said it hoped to create lasting changes for children.
Parliamentarians have the power to allocate resources from national budgets, establish strong policy directions, as well as formulate and enforce laws that protect children. They are therefore critical in moving forward the agenda for children.