Calls for Public Sensitization as the World Celebrates International Missing Children’s Day


By Reporter

The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, under the State Department for Social Protection and Senior Citizen Affairs through the Directorate of Children’s Services have held a sensitization awareness forum which will culminate in the International Missing Children’s Day (IMCD) celebrations.

Speaking during a multi-disciplinary panel discussion held at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Athena Morgan, from the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children reiterated that it is important to immediately take action and report a child is missing if he or she cannot be traced.

“Some parents or guardians rather assume their child is somewhere playing or having fun while in real sense, they could be in risk of getting hurt, she said.
Morgan noted this year’s celebrations to be marked on 25th May 2024 will greatly reflect on the strides and achievements made in handling missing children globally. In addition, she lamented that the definition of a missing child needs to be relooked to cater for disabled children who are hidden from the public by their families.

Speaking on the same, Mark Keya, Assistant Director, Children Services under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection said that their mandate revolves around sensitizing people on children rights and their general welfare.
He revealed that they are working on new guidelines for missing children to be launched during this year’s celebrations. Keya further urged members of the public to make use of the toll-free line 116 to report any cases involving children.

Lawrence Okoth, a detective attached to the DCI Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit, lauded the ministry for their efforts in handling missing children’s cases so far.

He said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations uses Internet or digital footprint to analyse data once a case of a missing child is reported.
He also encouraged the public to take advantage of the anonymous Fichua Kwa DCI toll free number, 0800722203 to report any suspected cases of missing children and child trafficking.

Speaking on the same, Naomi Wamaitha, from Investing in Children and their Societies (ICS) SP- Strengthening Families, Protecting Children noted that they empower children and young adults on safety education to understand their environment, know any risks, and who they can approach in case of incidents.
She further added that they encourage neighborhood watch programs such as the Nyumba Kumi initiative since a united community is a strong community. In addition, she challenged parents to monitor and have discussions on safety with their children as they are active in the digital space.

Leah Mati, Senior Prosecution Counsel at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution urged the ministry and all stakeholders to actively approach a multisectoral approach to curb and handle missing children’s cases.
The meeting saw a diverse participation from different organizations such as the Directorate of Children Services, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Kenya Medical Training College, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology among others.

As the world prepares to celebrate the international day for missing children, statistics have shown that close to 6,500 children go missing annually in Kenya which is equivalent to 18 children daily. Police say the number could be even higher given that many more lost children are never reported.

This year’s theme is “Empowering Communities to Safeguard Children and Young People from Going Missing.”

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