TRIPOLI, Libya, 5 July 2012 – The Libyan Minister of Social Affairs with support from UNICEF and the International Medical Corps (IMC) today launched a new training programme for social workers that will enhance child-focused services.
The programme, which will initially train 30 social workers in Tripoli and Benghazi and benefit an estimated 2,500 children, will eventually build a professional cadre of social workers across Libya.
UNICEF applauded the Ministry of Social Affairs for taking an important step to address the challenges of protecting and supporting children in the post-conflict environment.
“Creating a protective environment for children in which their social and emotional skills are strengthened is an important building block for the future of Libya,” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Libya Country Director. “The Ministry of Social Affairs is seizing an opportunity for change, and UNICEF will support this and related efforts in Libya in the coming years.”
Libya faces many challenges in creating a more protective environment for children. Focus group discussions conducted by IMC show that the effectiveness of social workers employed in community centres, schools, clinics, and other social institutions is limited because their roles are not adequately integrated into communities, nor well understood. In addition, professional capacity needs to be strengthened to empower social workers to fulfil their responsibilities towards children.
A window of opportunity is currently open to improve child protection systems in Libya affected by the recent conflict. In addition to building capacity at the Ministry of Social Affairs, the programme will increase knowledge of child protection principles among social workers, parents, teachers, community and religious leaders, as well as doctors and nurses.
The programme is being implemented with the support of the Swedish Government. In addition, there is an urgent need to improve and strengthen child protection systems in Libya, to ensure that systems are inclusive and more responsive to the special needs of every child regardless of gender, ethnic background or social status.
UNICEF supports the Government of Libya in other areas of child protection. An in-depth needs analysis is being conducted of capacity, scope and functionality within relevant government ministries and social sector institutions as a basis for reforms to address critical child protection challenges.
UNICEF is also supporting an extensive public awareness campaign to raise the profile of child rights and to deepen understanding about children’s rights.