Organizations launch Central Program for Children in Guatemala

Guatemala. Given the vulnerability of children and the lack of attention to this important sector of the population, Fe y Alegría, World Vision, the Conference of Religious Men and Women of Guatemala (CONFREGUA), the National Association of Catholic Schools (ANACC), the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala (ODHAG) and Caritas Guatemala signed an agreement to coordinate actions that promote the Central Program for Children (PCN) in Guatemala, joining forces and articulating with the Continental Network to counter the various forms of violence that childhood lives in us.

The Centrality of Children program is an initiative of the Latin American Episcopal Council -CELAM- that seeks to unite the will of the Catholic Church and religious organizations for the prevention of violence against children through advocacy, awareness, social mobilizations and campaigns that bring this issue to the fore.

“The pandemic has only highlighted the gaps that Guatemala has in responding to the profound needs that affect children. Let’s remember that Guatemala is a young country, where the population under 19 reaches 42%”. Monsinjor Ángel Recinos, Bishop of the Diocese of Zacapa and the Prelature of Esquipulas and representative of Caritas Guatemala, pointed out.

And this is that, according to recent studies, in 2021, 78,879 children and adolescents were repatriated, which shows that a large part of the population suffers from extreme deprivation, lacks access to basic services such as education, health and integral development opportunities. A situation aggravated by the pandemic.

Covid-19 has also marked a setback in child and adolescent protection issues. From 2020 to 2022, more than 49,910 children and adolescents were orphaned due to the pandemic, placing Guatemala as the country in Central America with the highest rate of orphans (75.8 per 10,000 children and adolescents). And in recent years, more than 108,000 boys and girls have left school.

Likewise, from January to December 2021, there were 2,124 pregnancies among girls between the ages of 10 and 14, with the departments with the highest number of cases being Alta Verapaz, Huehuetenango, Quiche, Petén, Guatemala and San Marcos. According to the legislative framework, sexual relations with minors under the age of 14 are considered rape.

“The reality of childhood in Guatemala is something that commits us as a church and religious organizations to unite and respond in a collective and conciliatory way, breaking down any divisive barrier between different sectors and religions and reconciling a better Guatemala for the most vulnerable childhood.” Said Neri Rodenas, director of the Human Rights Office of the Guatemalan Archdiocese.

The event was attended by Marco Laguatasi, Latin American coordinator of the Child Centrality program and who represents the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), who announced that the program now has a program of cooperation between all partner organizations for the prevention of violence against childhood and adolescence.

With this agreement, the signatory organizations commit to promote opportunities and strategies for public advocacy in the prevention of violence and the promotion of the rights of children and adolescents, making their voices and participation visible; promote protection practices, good treatment protocols and promote the rights of children and adolescents and their families and would strengthen their capacity of religious communities.

“Under the motto ‘0 violence, 100% GENTLE’, these organizations have come together to seek to impact the lives of thousands of boys and girls in Guatemala, who today are marked by violent and exploitative relationships, denial of basic rights, family, social and structural negligence, serious discrimination and violations that situations like the pandemic have increased,” reported Marco Laguatassi.

“What unites these organizations is the cause of the most vulnerable children. Guatemala is one of the most Christian countries in Latin America and the world. It’s time to show that together we can give a better response to the situation of children,” said Monica Ramírez of World Vision Guatemala.

The participating organizations call for the unification and strengthening of the program and a request to the relevant authorities, because the rights of children and adolescents are guaranteed, for the prevention of violence. Likewise, they invite the population of Guatemala to participate in the mobilizations and public activities that will take place within the framework of this agreement.

Font. Central American and Caribbean Digital Newspaper

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