TODAY -

Ensuring the basic rights of conflict-affected children
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 14, 2024 -



After the recent incident of rescuing five Manipuri children from a private school in Nashik, Maharashtra, where they were taken on the promise of providing free education but subjected to torture and harassment, Manipur State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) had issued a set of advisories to all the government departments concerned to ensure protection of the basic rights, including the right to education, food, health care, etc., of all the children who have become internally displaced in Manipur due to the ethnic violence that has been going on since May 3 last year.

The advisories directed the Education Department, ZEOs concerned as well as private school authorities to ensure that no child in the age group 6-18 years is left out of enrolment in schools and special attention be given to the displaced children so that they are not deprived of continuing his/her education in the same school, if the school is unaffected by the violence and conducive to continue study.

The advisories further directed that steps must be taken up by the school authorities for refunding admission or other fees already paid at the time of admission if children were compelled to leave the school due to the conflict; private school authorities must provide 25 per cent reservation under RTE norms; and the education department must ensure that all the internally displaced children are enrolled in state or central government funded residential schools set up in the state on top priority basis and their uniforms, textbooks, stationery items are provided on priority basis; in addition to providing remedial education programme to the needy displaced children on regular and need-based basis, reserving a 'learning centre' exclusively for children in every relief centre; facilitating career link vocational training and life skill development programme in sustained manner in all relief camps, updating the number of children in each and every relief centre and monitoring their migration or placement, if any, to ensure no child falls in the hands of child traffickers.

Coming close behind the incident of rescuing five internally displaced children who were taken outside the state on the promise of providing free education, it is understandable why MCPCR has come up with such an exhaustive advisory on what the Education Department and its related agencies should do for ensuring the rights of conflict-affected children in Manipur.

But MCPCR has not lost sight of the responsibilities of other government departments towards ensuring holistic development of the displaced children.

Apart from directing the Social Welfare Department to fulfil the mandate of Midday Meal Scheme by ensuring no child residing in the relief camps is deprived of their right to receive a 'hot cook meal a day, the advisories of MSCPCR have also made it clear that the health department should conduct free and regular medical check-up of the children, provide facilities for counselling, treatment and life skill educations as and when required and a 24x7 Medical helpline must be made operational.

What is even more appreciable in the advisories of MSCPCR is the directive given against use of displaced children, especially those who have lost their parents in the ongoing conflict, as publicity objects to over sensationalise or to attract audience through Youtube, Facebook, Reels, News Podcast and other social media platforms, without caring for the possible negative impacts of such acts on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the child/children, who are going through some serious traumatic experiences which many of us may never know.

So, the advisory given to apex bodies of media in Manipur such as All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) and Editors' Guild Manipur (EGM) "to be vigilant and prescribe ethical guidelines for print and electronic media including admins, who frequently upload videos, films, interviews of victim children on different media or social media platforms, to control any inappropriate, highly sensationalised or provocative exposure of displaced children, or orphaned children as a result of the ongoing conflict" should be taken in the right spirit and do the needful. Victimisation of victims is something everyone should avoid because, in the real sense of the term, the internally displaced children in Manipur are not the victims but survivors of a senseless violence that has been allowed to go on for so long by some people with vested interest.



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