Speaker of Children's Parliament, Giovanni Britz, says 45 percent of children acknowledge that they do not feel safe in classrooms and they want teachers to protect them from bullies.

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In the inner-city Johannesburg neighbourhood of Berea, where a large proportion of residents are refugees and asylum-seekers, it is not uncommon to see children playing football in the street or killing time at one of the local parks on a weekday. Judith Manjoro, an out-of-work teacher from Zimbabwe, teamed up with some other community workers two years ago to quiz the children about why they were not in school.

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As I sat in a sidewalk café, tranquilly sipping my coffee, an 8-year boy silently approached me and shyly put a flower on my table. I cajoled him about the price of the gift to start a conversation, but he was only interested in making his sale.

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Hundreds of children in Côte d’Ivoire were separated from their parents when people fled their villages during post-election violence in 2011, but nine months after the conflict formally ended only a quarter of those children have been reunified with their families, says the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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It is internationally agreed that the rationale behind trying children in juvenile courts and committing them to children detention facilities or prison is not punitive, but to convert and enable them to reintegrate in society upon their release.

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UNICEF appealed today for US$1.28 billion to fund its humanitarian operations in 2012, assisting children in more than 25 countries globally. The list of countries includes many long standing or so-called “silent” emergencies, but the crisis in Somalia and in other countries in the Horn of Africa accounts for nearly one-third of the total amount.

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Across many countries in Africa, thousands of young people are imprisoned without access to proper nutrition, education or healthcare, and once released, there is often little, if any, support to help them reform and reintegrate.  Aid groups are making headway to improve one youth detention center in Senegal, though the problems faced by administrators have not gone away.

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A dozen traditional gold mining sites have appeared in recent years in the province of Ganzourgou. Gold panners from all over flock there to work the sites, most often living in the greatest promiscuity, without any infrastructure for sanitation and with no access to public basic services. The miners migrate according to the discovery of new veins of gold, usually moving there from the rural areas of Burkina Faso as well as from neighbouring countries (Togo, Benin, Ghana). Between one quarter and one third of them are under 18.

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Children with disabilities must not be forgotten during crises and conflict, UNICEF said at an international conference.

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Forced child labour remains rampant in Central Africa, where poverty fuels the trafficking of children from poorer countries to oil-rich states such as Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo, according to experts.

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