Tuesday, 10 June 2008
KENYA: Helpline 116 for Children in Distress is Launched NAIROBI,
June 3, 2008 (CISA) -In a new initiative to improve protection of the rights of children, the government has launched a toll free helpline, 116.The 24-hour hotline offers help to children in distress and caregivers. It also provides information and a variety of referral services such as medical care, legal aid, shelter and rescue services.The Minister for Gender and Children Affairs, Esther Murugi launched the helpline on Saturday at Kabete Rehabilitation School. The number will be launched in all the provinces of Kenya.“I urge all children and adults to report cases of child abuse to the police, children officers and provincial administration to offer protection and entrench a culture of child rights in Kenya,” the minister said.The minister also called upon interested organizations to liaise with the Department of Children’s Services to ensure better protection of children.“Statistics from both government sources and civil societies are quite alarming. It is unfortunate that children continue to suffer in the hands of the very people charged with the responsibility of protecting them within the family, school and the community. The abuses range from child neglect, child labour, trafficking, sexual and physical violence among others,” Murugi said.“The family as well as the general public needs to be supported and empowered to understand and participate in all matters that guarantee child protection, survival, development and participation.”Irene Nyamu, national coordinator for Child Line Kenya, said there was increase in abuse cases around the country. She said in April her organisation received 16,200 test calls on 116, some 6,000 of which were about serious cases. In May, 6,700 calls were received at the Kabete Call Center.The director of Children’s Services, Ahmed Hussein, said soon the number 116 will be accessible via internet, wireless telephone and radio.The helpline is a joint initiative of the Department of Children’s Services, Child Line Kenya and a network of other partners.