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I love children, they are our treasure - President

by Ranil Wijayapala

I love children. The world must be made fit for them to live in for they are our treasure and our future lies in them, said President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Addressing the national ceremony to mark Universal Children's Day at the BMICH yesterday, she reiterated her Government's commitment towards creating a world fit for children to live in as pledged by her at the United Nations special session on children in 2002 on behalf of Sri Lanka.

The President said the country has to face many challenges before creating an environment to provide 'normal, healthy environment for good and rich life for the children'.

The President said a very few had spent the time to understand them, care for them, educate them and develop them.

"My government will do so. I love children and I care for them as a mother. I will not allow them to be harmed," she said.

"We have much more to do in creating a world fit for the children to live in," President Kumaratunga added.

She said her government has adopted children and youth as the country's precious assets. "We believe our country and the world belong to our children as they are the ones who are there to take the country and the world forward," the President said.

She said Sri Lanka has special challenges to face in its endeavour to create an environment fit for children.

Poverty and the armed conflict are the major challenges before the country, President Kumaratunga added.

"Due to forcible recruitment of children as fighting cadres, children and youth aged between eight to 25 have suffered much in the Armed conflict," the President said.

President Kumaratunga said her Government embarked on a project to improve the quality of the education system to enable children face challenges in a globalised world.

"Our aim is to create children who can face challenges of the world not by bombs, bullets or through corruption but by peaceful means, facing the challenge as it is and negotiating with the people who have different opinions," President Kumaratunga added.

The President said through the establishment of the Child Protection Authority, the Government was able to control child abuse, drug addiction and alcohol consumption among children and youth.

President Kumaratunga called upon political leaders, religious dignitaries, civil society organisations, public agencies and donor agencies to join the government's effort to create a world fit for children. Children representing all provinces participated at the ceremony organised by the National Child Protection Authority headed by Prof. Harendra de Silva.

President Kumaratunga handed over an award to IP W.T.J. Wijesinghe of the Special Investigation Unit of the NCPA for his contribution towards the protection of children.

A special stamp to mark the fifth anniversary of the National Child Protection Authority was also launched.

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