Celebrating Children’s Day in Greece“I want every child to go to bed well-fed,” 14-year-old Loulou said on Universal Children’s day; November 20, at the Koutsochero site, central Greece.
Her words echo just one of the hardships children may face worldwide. Neglect, exploitation and violence often mark children’s day life at home, at school, in institutions, in the community, in conflict or natural disasters. From malnutrition and corporal punishment to early marriage and recruitment into armed forces and groups, children’s development and dignity is often at serious risk.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Greece celebrated Universal Children’s Day this year, organizing events in four Greek mainland sites with the support of European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO). Teachers across Greece introduced the children’s rights treaty to 143 refugee children between 6 and 17 years old.
During the day, child friendly versions of the treaty in Arabic and Farsi language were distributed to the young students who were encouraged to learn about their rights and reflect on situations in which those rights may not be respected. The students also had the chance to express themselves through artistic activities.
Attention was drawn to articles 28 and 29 of the Convention, on the Right to quality education. Refugee children face great risks coming from the disruption of everyday life and community structures as well as the acute shortage of resources. Many children arriving in Europe need to take up schooling again as their education has been disrupted for more several years, while for other children never even started.
“Children should not work. They should go to school,” 8-year-old Belal pointed out during the discussion about children’s rights.
“Girls have the same right to attend school, just like boys,” added 13-year-old Zahra, working in pairs with other students to showcase their own understanding of the UN treaty. They also created drawings, banners, posters and sang inspiring songs to celebrate the day.
Children have rights, no matter their gender, nationality, country of residence or background. Their voices should always be heard, and their rights must be respected. DRC education teams help children learn and aim at creating a safe environment in each refugee site so that young beneficiaries may grow to their full potential.
Established by the United Nations in 1954, Children's Day is celebrated each year on November 20, to promote worldwide awareness for children's welfare. The same day in 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Thirty years later, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRDC) was adopted, becoming one of the most widely ratified international human rights treaties, promoting children’s rights, including the rights to life, health and education, as well as their right to be heard and their protection from violence and discrimination.