A group of delegates from across Africa and partners from Europe and the USA have converged to discuss the child protection problems and solutions in and for Africa, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gathering set for 23rd and 24th of May, will be  convened by the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA) of the Jesuit Conference on Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) in collaboration with The Vatican COVID-19
Commission – Africa Taskforce, The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of East and
Southern Africa (AMECEA) and the Catholic Care for Children (CCC) with a focus on the Theology and Practice of Child Protection in Africa in Times of Pandemics.

“The immense challenges that the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought to this region of the world
has sharpened our thinking and made the need for deep reflection on how we care for and protect
the most vulnerable in our societies ever more important,” observed Bishop Charles Kasonde,
President, AMECEA. “How we care for and safeguard children must be at the heart of that
discernment,” he added.
In attendance will be child protection experts representing the governments of Kenya, Uganda and
Zambia. Other partners are religious organisations such as the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya
(AOSK), the Association of The Religious in Uganda (ARU), Changing the Way We Care and the
Zambia Association of Sisterhoods. Also attending will be representatives from UNICEF, World Bank,
US State Department officials and USAID.

The conference will formulate recommendations in the form of operative theology and practical
strategies regarding child protection that are faithful to God’s will and purposes. First and foremost
will be the question of how best we protect children from various forms of violence, harm and abuse.

“The COVID-19 crisis and its impacts provide an opportunity for rethinking child protection,” said Fr
Charles Chilufya, Director, JENA during a pre-conference interview. “The pandemic has exposed
significant gaps in theories and practices of child protection when analysed from various
contemporary perspectives, whether theological, scientific, cultural or social,” he continued.

Even though children have not been the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are probably among
the largest proportion of its victims. Children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected by
the disease itself, particularly by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation
measures that may inadvertently have done more harm than good.

The pandemic is a universal crisis affecting all countries and peoples but for some children –
especially in Africa – its impact is more specific to them and some of the impacts will be lifelong. Nor
have the harmful impacts of the pandemic not been distributed equally. They have been most
damaging for children, especially those already in vulnerable situations and in the poorest places and
regions. Ultimately, the COVID-19 crisis has had and is still having a profound effect on children’s
well-being.
The outcome of the conference will be policy and context-relevant knowledge outputs for
well-informed action to assure child protection