Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world, according to UNICEF Organization. An estimated 267 out of 1000 children die under-five years old, as stated by the MICS 2005 report. These statistics rank Sierra Leone one of the countries in dire need of humanitarian aid. Here are the reasons why these children need more protection.
- Sierra Leone has for 11 years experienced conflicts from within until 2002. The battle left more than 75% of the population displaced and approximately 50,000 dead. It also resulted in the recruitment of over 10,000 children soldiers. Similarly, tons of kids were either left orphans or in the hands of caregivers.
Of these numbers, approximately 50% of the kids were abducted and recruited into the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Although the conflict seems to be over, kids who were in the war’s front line require physical and emotional support.
- Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world due to the destruction caused by the civil war. Child labor is a significant setback despite the presence of social organizations and human rights activists in the country. In the same vein, some local politicians and parents oppose the need to enroll kids in any formal education. This is wrong as these children need more protection.
An estimated 60% of school-going kids don’t attend school. Almost 50% of these children aged 5 to 14 years engage in child labor either voluntarily or unwillingly. In 2010, over half a million kids were working in diamond mining quarries. Also, there are only 4,600 operational learning facilities, which aren’t enough to support the over 2.6 million children population (0 to 14 years old).
- Significant progress has been made in terms of support, infrastructure, and economic growth over the years. The country’s GDP growth rate was between 4.3% in 2017 and 5.1% in 2018, according to the World Bank Forecasts for Sierra Leone. Nonetheless, there is a slow-paced diffusion of foreign aid, high corruption, and poor children’s rights implementation.
The scarcity of basic needs and a weak infrastructure network makes children walk long distances in search of amenities, food, and water. Most kids spend most of their time on the roads and are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. So, children need more protection from us.
More volunteers need to come on board to help Sierra Leone get back on its feet. The country needs funding to support children’s health and education programs. Doing this would arguably keep kids safe from violence and exploitation going forward.