Since 1933, the IRC has provided hope and humanitarian aid to refugees and other victims of oppression and violent conflict around the world.
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VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Join the fight for children’s rights
October 20, 2010
By George Rupp
Since 1989, no president has taken the final step required for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
When war breaks out or a natural disaster strikes, children and young people invariably pay a high price in suffering and loss. We at the International Rescue Committee see this grim reality every day in countries where we work—for example, in Haiti, Congo, Sudan, and Pakistan. Children are cruelly separated from their parents, afflicted with debilitating diseases such as diarrhea and cholera, and lose the chance to attend school and enjoy a normal childhood.
Helping young refugees and displaced people is at the core of the IRC’s mission and programs, not just during the emergency phase of a natural disaster or conflict, but also during the period of rebuilding and reconstruction that follows.
In Haiti, we are playing a leading role in efforts to assist separated children and reunite them with their families. In Afghanistan and Congo, our education programs offer boys and girls learning opportunities that will give them richer, more productive, and more satisfying lives. In Southern Sudan and Sierra Leone, our community-based health programs have dramatically reduced childhood mortality.
The IRC’s experience working with children and protecting their rights has made us highly appreciative of the value of the United Nations' 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. This agreement sets forth the political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all children and provides a framework for the nations of the world to safeguard them.
The state of the world’s children
The number of:
Child laborers > 246 million
Child slaves > 6 million
Child soldiers > 300,000+
Primary-school-age children not enrolled in school > 101 million
Children without adequate shelter > 640 million
Children without access to safe water > 400 million
Children without access to health care > 270 million
Sources: Stop Child Poverty/Global Issues Web, ILO, Human Rights Watch, UNICEF
If you have not been following the issue, you may be surprised to learn that all members of the United Nations have ratified the Convention except Somalia and the United States. Although the United States actively participated in the original debate and drafting of the Convention, no president has taken the final step required for ratification by forwarding the agreement to the Senate for its advice and consent.
The time has now come for President Obama — and the Senate — to end this embarrassing state of affairs. To encourage their action, we are asking our supporters to sign an online petition that we will deliver to the White House on November 20, the Universal Day of the Child. It asks the president to forward the Convention to the Senate, and urges the Senate’s swift approval.
Ratification will reaffirm the role of the United States as an international leader in human rights and will enable the country to more forcefully advocate for the rights of the world’s children.
Please visit the Take Action section of our Web site to sign the petition. Thank you.
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