Every child has right to life – NHRC warns killers of disabled children

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The National Human Right Commission (NHRC), has warned Nigerians to desist from crimes against children with disability and special needs, especially those with cerebral palsy across the country.

The Commission also called for more funding and support for homes specialised in nurturing and caring for children with special needs.

The call follows the reported killing of disabled children and those with cerebral palsy, who most local communities view as curses and disgraces to their families.

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Aver Gaver, speaking on behalf of the Commission, warned that such children, targeted because of their vulnerability and disability are also protected by the Human Rights law and the Child Rights Act, given their existence as members of society.

Gaver warned that the Child Rights Act stipulates grave punishment for anyone found molesting, abusing, killing or subjecting such children to inhuman treatments.

Giving the warning at an event to call attention to the care and protection of children with special needs, organised by Seechild Care Centre, Gaver insisted that sensitisation at the grassroots and local communities was essential to reduce the cultural crimes of killing disabled children.

Solomon Igbayue, an Assistant Director at the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) also raised concern over the need for financial support for care centres to provide conducive homes for the children and adequate remuneration for care workers to ensure the children are protected.

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He maintained that Nigeria must encourage the specialisation of caregivers and teachers in the field of disability to ensure special attention to the peculiar needs of such children.

Igbayue called for specialized hospitals for disabled children explaining that conventional hospitals lack the facilities for the special need of disabled children.

“If we have a hospital that can take care of cerebral palsy children, that can take care of them in a special way, special treatment, take care of their therapy, if we can create all these things, we can make the atmosphere an enabling one for them.

“And with these, you will realise that these children will grow up and become what they want to be, we have seen some of them who had these challenges and they overcome, some of them are engineers, doctors, advocates.

“Funding is key for the care of these children, Sechild is scouting for this funding by themselves without any support from anywhere, most of these children are on diapers 24/7, some of them have special medication they take.

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“Some of them have nurses who are dedicated to taking care of them, they are being paid, the doctors who attend to them are paid, all these require a lot of money,” he stressed.

He also called for dedicated schools where the children can learn, adding that, some of them who had gone to conventional schools and become great learn the hard way.

”Most parents of children with disability are ashamed and not bold to bring them out as a result of discrimination in society, says Mrs Apha Mane-Iber, a board member of the Sechild centre.

She expressed worry that society places pressure on parents to kill or throw away their children because of their special needs, appealing to the Ministry of Health and Women Affairs to devote funds to organisations caring for disabled children.

Kawan Aondofa-Anjira, whose two children live with cerebral palsy said the major challenge in caring for them and others in her centre is adequate space for physiotherapy for their young bodies.

“We have been managing even with the space constraint, but however, we started with an expansion project which is already completed but waiting to be furnished, that is part of the reason why we are doing this fundraising today.

“The response from the government has not been so good, we have written several letters to the Federal Ministry of health for them to give us physiotherapy, doctors, wheelchairs but none has materialised.

“Most people in society do not understand the condition of these children and once a child is not developing as expected it is viewed as not a human being.

“My advice to mothers is that every child is a gift from God and every child deserves the right to life, every child should be cared for, no one deserves to be looked down upon, all children must be trained.

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