The Special Conference on the Child

The Special Conference of the child outlined Stella Panou, SCC

The workshop started off with some fun icebreakers where delegates of the Special conference on the Child, introduced themselves and said something interesting about them- selves. The presentation began with the introduction of some humanitarian organizations such as SCC and Hope for the Children, elaborating on the responsibilities and rights of the child.

Furthermore, the Chair prepared the delegates by giving them information about the structure of the position papers followed by an open debate occurring for the concept of written communication, amendments, motions, and lobbying.

Resources for researching were given, as a list of useful websites as well as MEDIMUN resources to help the delegates form their resolutions.

A presentation booklet familiarized the delegates with Mr. Joseph Var- ughese, the general director of Hope for Children, who came in as a special guest and talked about the aims and projects this organization.

In addition, there was an open discussion of ideas about child marriage, responsibilities and rights, children refugees and children with disabilities. Delegates had the opportunity to express their thoughts freely and hear what others had to say in order to form a rounded background of information.
Lastly, delegates were assigned the countries they would represent and a closed debate took place, they had the opportunity to prepare their speeches. Thus, they gained an idea of what to expect in the next conference in February.

Interview with: Mr. Joseph Varughese (General Director) and Christine Shahbenderian (Project Officer)

What is one of the most crucial issues that Hope for Children fights against in Cyprus?

Sexual abuse against children is the toughest issue we deal with because it is a taboo and children are not willing to speak up. We have a very good structure in Cyprus since 2017, which is called the children’s house. It is a structure where all the authorities are in one place. The council of ministers have decided that all the sexual abuse cases have to be handled in the Children’s House. It is one stop shop where the police, the welfare, the ministry of health, the doctors, the psychologists, the social workers, everybody is in the same structure which is a model brought from Iceland.

-What are Hope for Children’s goals for the upcoming year?

We are already participating in decision making and international and European institutions but to have more effective participation in the EU, United Nations as well as locally.

-On the site for Hope for Children there is reference about an EU and local project on the right of the child such as JudEx. Can you tell us more about it?

(Answered by Christine) Specifically it was a European project coordinated by us with partners from 6 different European countries. The project finished in 2017. The aim was to make the judicial proceedings of children that were victims of sexual abuse. Basically, to train professionals i.e. doctors, judges, lawyers, teachers, police, in order to support children in a more child friendly way and to be more aware of the problems that they were going through in the judicial proceedings. Now we run 24 European programs. We are coordinators of 2 major projects; one has to do with providing support to children older than 18, who are ageing out of care like shelters, through their transition period from teenagers to adults. It is called INTEGRA and it started in June. The second project is called Hate Interrupter Teams, and this is to empower and train young people where different state holders and opinion formers will also come in the project to tackle hate speech and behaviour against migrants. One of the most concerning issues now is the grey areas of the internet and children’s rights in digital enrollment as it is new and there is a big hole in the laws all over the world because it is a new scenario and this needs to be dealt with in order to create a proper law. We need a lot of support from children for this matter because they know better how things are done now rather than adults.

What is the importance of the coins of hope? Can you elaborate?

The coins of hope were printed on a 2 euro coin in 2016. We man- aged to convince the Central Bank of the European Union to print these coins to raise awareness.

Stella Panou, SCC

I see humans but no humanity

Hope for Children is an international humanitarian and independent institution based in Nicosia Cyprus, established on the standards and principles of the UN convention on the Rights of the Child. The primary objec- tive of Hope for Children is to develop and implement policy for the protection and pro- motion of children’s rights. The Humanitarian Division of the institution aims to support and facilitate humanitarian aid by providing material or logistical assistance, typically in response to humanitarian crises including natural disasters or man-made disasters such as war. This beneficial aid aims to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity.

Moreover, it also combats the risk of social exclusion of children and youth living under extreme poverty and ensures access to basic social and legal services for all children internationally. Poverty pronounces material and social deprivation, while social exclusion impairs a person’s or a group’s ability to participate in social, economic, political and cultural life, damaging their relationships with others. Children, in particular, have to face the concept of rejection in forms of social exclusion due to their low financial standing, which results in mental disruption. Living on $1.25 or less a day has a substantial impact on the lifestyle and psychology of children while growing up, since it is not enough to cover basic needs, thus creating a toxic and very unhealthy environment for children to live in.

Furthermore, it focuses on dealing with the violation of children’s rights by raising awareness through different media tools and sharing widely important projects such as the “judicial proceedings in cases of sexual violence against children: the child’s experience”. This was a European project coordinated by Hope for Children, with partners from six different European countries. The aim of the project was to initiate judicial proceedings for children that were victims of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse against children is probably the toughest issue

that the humanitarian arm of Hope for Children is dealing with, because children have difficulty to speak up and share their traumatic experienc- es. For this reason, the project involved special training for judges, lawyers, police, doctors and teachers to increase their awareness of the problems children were going through during the judicial proceedings and to enable them support these children in a more child-friendly way. Since 2017 the Cyprus government, in collaboration with Hope for Children, has further facilitated this process through the introduction of the Children’s House, a structure where all relevant authorities are represented in one place to handle sexual abuse cases for children.

Having organisations like Hope for Children is critical for changing the world’s perceptions and establishing the children’s economic, social and cultural rights. Initiatives like this bring out the human side of society and make the world a better place.

Stella Panou, SCC

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