By Justina Auta
The Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria (ASOHON) has advocated for the review of existing laws and policies that defined the rights and protection of orphans in Nigeria.
The association made the call at a news briefing during its 2023 National Conference, themed: “Advocating for Change: Policy and Legislative Measures for Orphans Welfare,” on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Gabriel Oyediji, ASOHON’S National President, noted the increasing number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the society, calling for laws that will protect their rights and prioritise their well-being.
“We are advocating legislative policies and measures that establishes comprehensive legal frameworks that define the rights and protection of orphans, including access to education, healthcare, inheritance and legal representation.
“A proactive streamlining and harmonisation of adoption processes, reducing bureaucracy and ensuring the best interest of the child are prioritised while maintaining appropriate safeguards.
“Legislative policies and measures that strengthens foster care system including robust screening, training and support to foster families to provide stable and nurturing environment for orphaned children,” he said.
Oyediji also called for legislative policies that ensure availability of monthly grants for operators of registered homes as well as robust budgetary fund allocations to social development and humanitarian ministries across the country.
He said establishing mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of funds and resources allocated for orphan welfare was also neccessary to ensure accountability and address their challenges.
The ASOHON president also noted the issue of child trafficking and exploitation, financial constraints, emotional and psychological well-being of the orphans as some of the challenges facing orphans and orphanage operation.
“We cannot overlook the issue of child trafficking and exploitation, which poses a significant threat to the well-being of orphaned and vulnerable children.
“Criminal elements often prey on these children, exploiting their vulnerability for various purposes, including forced labour, sex trafficking and organ trafficking.
“As orphanage operators, we must be vigilant and implement stringent safeguards to protect the children under our care from such heinous acts.
“We must collaborate with law enforcement agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and other stakeholders to create a robust child protection system that ensures the safety and security of every child,” he said.
He therefore urged all stakeholders, especially the orphanage operators, to continue to strive towards providing their needs, ensure they have access to education, healthcare and other neccessary requirements.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day conference had in attendance orphanage operators, religious leaders, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. (NAN)