KENYA: Biden Administration to Work with Global Faith Actors to Protect Vulnerable Children

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, MAY 27, 2022 (CISA)– Over 10 million children worldwide face the risk of a profound short- and long-term adverse effects on their health, safety, and well-being due to the Covid-19 pandemic said Adam Nicholas Phillips, Director, Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and of the Local, Faith, and Transformative Partnerships Hub at USAID on May 23.

Speaking in Nairobi, Mr Philips expressed the preparedness of the Biden administration to work with faith-based actors and organizations globally to address global risks children globally have been exposed to following the death of a parent, custodial grandparent, or other adult guardians who cared for them.

“Faith-based actors and organizations can be important allies in supporting and advocating for the safety and well-being of children and the families that care for them. Faith-based actors often have long histories of concern and care for orphans and other vulnerable children, and commitment to and provision of education, and support for people affected by conflict and crisis,” he said, citing a recent report co-authored by USAID, U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners.

“Children today are in need of our support more than ever,” Mr Phillips told delegates attending a conference themed “An Indaba on a Theology and Practice of Child Protection in Africa in Times of Pandemics”, convened by the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA), an apostolate of Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) in collaboration with The Vatican COVID-19 Commission – Africa Taskforce, AMECEA and Catholic Care for Children (CCC).

The conference also brought on board partners from Europe and USA to deliberate on the formulation of working policies that protect children in the post-Covid-19 era.

He said the conference, which is born out of Pope Francis’s call to unite leaders and people from all sectors to fully participates in the mission of safeguarding children post Covid-19 is timely and helps to discuss how to leverage collective strength to fight the pandemic while supporting and protecting children.

“It is imperative for the United States to continue partnering with faith-based and community leaders, donors, NGOs, partner countries, and others to share best practices and work together to put the pandemic behind us,” Mr Phillips a former pastor and grassroots advocate added.

Also speaking at the conference, Mr James Alexander, Senior Advisor at the US Department of State, stressed that “protection of children is an absolute priority that requires a collaborative effort and that sometimes as a government we don’t always collaborate with our agencies and we really need to.”

“US government is aware of and concerned about the drastic secondary effects of covid-19 and the damage that is causing to communities across the continent. It is through partnerships and collaborative efforts that solutions are found especially by governments working with and listening to religious institutions and civil society,” Mr Alexander added.