2019 Regional Consultation of Child Helplines in Africa and MENA

The Regional Consultations of Child Helplines in Africa and Middle East and North Africa (MENA), brings together government officials, ministers, high-level partners and members of the Child Helpline International network from all over the world. Held in Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania from 5-7 November 2019, the consultation has been hosted by our Tanzanian child helpline member C-Sema.

This year, the theme of the Regional Consultation is ‘Online Child Sexual Exploitation & Abuse: A Call to Action on Preventing and Responding to online CSEA’. This is in line with the vision of Africa’s Agenda for Children 2040: that by 2040, ‘No child is exposed to sexual exploitation and used for child sexual materials’ and that ‘children are free from physical and psychological abuse, sexual violence and exploitation, and sex trafficking’.

On this occasion the Regional Consultation for our child helpline members in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is also taking place this week alongside the Africa consultation. This is a great opportunity to bring the two regions together to meet, deliberate, share experiences and best practices and join forces to better tackle Online CSEA. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for child helplines in both regions to add to Child Helpline International’s objective of advocating for better child protection services, increase the recognition of children’s voices by creating awareness of child helplines and strengthening goals with key partners.

For this event we are joined by more than 90 participants from child helplines in Africa and MENA as well as Government and police officials, child protection specialists and representatives from the ICT sector and INGOs such as UNICEF, ECPAT International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terres des Hommes, Internet Watch Foundation and National Children Advisory Board (NCAB).

The event was opened by the Second Vice President of Zanzibar, Seif Ali Iddi, who reaffirmed the Zanzibar government’s commitment to taking issues of online CSEA seriously and following up on the outcomes and resolutions of this Regional Consultation.

Throughout the coming days, sessions will cover recommendations and the role of children and young people in tackling online CSEA, Child Helpline International’s data strategy, a round-table discussion with representatives from the ICT Sector, and parallel sessions for Africa and MENA to focus on updates and strategies within their respective regions.

The European Region and Asia-Pacific Regional Consultations will take place online, later this November and the Americas and Caribbean Regional Consultation will take place in Uruguay early in the New Year.