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43 million out-of-home children in S Asia need govts' support: Experts

Noida, Mar 16 (UNI) In a bid to provide alternative care to out-of-home children which is approximately 43 million in South Asia, Udayan Care organised the 3rd Biennial International Conference on Friday to bring together South Asian countries to improve knowledge and understanding on alternative care settings in South Asia.
The two-day conference, being held at Amity University, aims to sustain dialogue and sharing of experiences at the South Asian level; chronicle and explore the evolving trends in the region; and bring together individuals and professionals involved in providing care and protection to OHC children in the region and other parts of the globe.
Addressing the gathering which brought together about 250 participants from around 18 countries, Ministry of Women and Child Development Secretary Rakesh Srivastava shared a number of government initiatives whilst clarifying “ I assure this gathering that the ICPS is not being merged with ICDS. They remain under separate budget heads and the ICPS budget for the year is rupees 6480 million.”
“A very large number of children live in out-of-home care settings in South Asia. It is invariably State’s obligation to make adequate efforts to support such children in realising their full potential. Alternative Care for Children (ACC) is an umbrella of care and protection to look after all such children, which ensures that they are not further, exposed to risk and vulnerability of abuse, abandonment, neglect or exploitation,” experts stated.
The participating stakeholders pushed the agenda of improving this situation on alternative care of children to the centrestage in the governments of South Asian countries and develop a common understanding on implementation of the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care so as to improve knowledge on Alternative Care settings in South Asia.
The keynote address by Dr Delia Pop, Director of programmes and Global Advocacy, Hope and Homes for Children, UK, focused on the importance of gatekeeping, that is ensuring institutionalization is the last resort for a child.
“There is a need to carry forward the regional thinking of how to prevent and mitigate this heightened risk and vulnerability to violence, abuse and neglect of children in South Asia, which was initiated in 2014 at the first conference. Many organisations are doing amazing work to secure rights of such children. We need to join hands and address this multifaceted problem collectively,” says Dr. Kiran Modi, Managing Trustee, Udayan Care.
The session on emergency and conflict situation throw up multiple approaches to short term responses and long term intervention in the care of “children on the move”.
“Often we focus our efforts on the affected children alone when what we need is to endorse the families that protect these children in the first place” said Javier Aguilar, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF India, in his response to emergency relief and conflict zone.
An estimated 43 million children (out of 153 million globally) who have lost one or both parents, live in South Asia.
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