“All children do not have the same opportunities in Belgium”
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    “All children do not have the same opportunities in Belgium”

    Children still face significant inequalities in Belgium. In particular young people with a disability, assisted by Youth Aid, and child migrants don’t have the same opportunities as others. A report on their situation was submitted by a number of children’s rights organizations to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Thursday.

    The general delegate for the rights of the child, Bernard De Vos, and his counterpart on the Flemish side, Bruno Vanobbergen, have formed the NGOs Coordination for the Rights of the Child (CODE ) and the Kinderrechtencoalitie (KIRECO) together with various civil society organizations in Belgium.

    The NGOs calls for special attention to the universality of children’s rights. “Non-discrimination is one of the common threads of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but in our country many children don’t always have access to what they are entitled to,” says Vanobbergen.

    “In addition, child poverty rates continue to rise, so we are asking the government to ensure that every family can fully and normally be part of society.”

    The NGO network also calls for the situation of migrant minors to be monitored more closely. “Despite many efforts in the education sector, as well as the support and protection of young people, too many of these children don’t have real prospects for the future,” Vanobbergen says.

    Many children are still victims of domestic abuse and violence, according to Vanobbergen. “We must continue efforts to raise awareness but also strengthen the fight against trafficking and exploitation of children.”

    He also points out that a large number of young people leave secondary education without a diploma. “It’s necessary to implement an explicit equal opportunity policy and to make every effort to avoid the exclusion of certain students,” he said.

    CODE and KIRECO are responsible for the drafting of an alternative report to the official report on the application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Belgium that the Belgian government must submit every five years to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

    The Committee, which meets in Geneva, will hear the various child rights actors in June 2018 and the procedure will lead to final assessments in early 2019.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times