Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Holland gives aid for child protection

JAKARTA (JP): The Dutch government extended 3 million guilders (US$1.2 million) in a grant on Thursday toward child protection programs in Indonesia through the local office of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

The agreement was signed by Netherlands Ambassador Baron Schelto van Heemstra and Unicef Indonesia chief representative Rolf C. Carriere at a community hall in Manggarai Utara, Central Jakarta, a district that has a large share of street children.

"Today's initiative is a key activity in the fight for the rights of children in Indonesia," van Heemstra said of the three- year grant program.

According to Unicef, six million children between 7 years old and 15 years old dropped out of school following the start of the economic crisis in 1997 because their parents could not afford to pay for the books and uniforms. Tuition is free at government-run schools.

Many of these children were also forced to work to supplement their parents' income and some 70,000 of them, mostly girls, were pushed into prostitution, according to the UN agency.

Van Heemstra said street children and child workers must be given the opportunity to go to school.

The grant allows the creation of child protection bodies in locations easily accessible to children in several cities. It also provides funding for the programs aimed at children in need, which will be formulated by non-governmental organizations and government agencies.

It also allows Unicef to organize a publicity campaign to inform children of their rights and where to go for assistance. (04)