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Syrian officials learn about child protection methods

Syrian officials are visiting the Jordanian capital, Amman to learn about measures taken by authorities there to protect children from abuse.

“We are very happy with the visit and eager to learn from Jordan and we are going to convey our message to the decision makers. We need to build on this experience and put forward a proposal to raise funds and start implementing similar projects in Syria,” head of Syria’s criminal justice department, Gen. Ali Hamowi, told IRIN from Amman.

“We don’t have any accurate data on the scale of this problem but we know it exists and we will act on this appropriately,” he added.

Jordan has developed a multidisciplinary approach to dealing with violence against children and women. All agencies coordinate and cooperate together through a family protection project to provide comprehensive services for victims of violence.

“They [Syrian government] are hoping to establish a family protection department system. At present their system is scattered and there is no specialised unit,” child protection officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Maha Homsi, told IRIN from Amman on Monday.

The UN agency has assisted in facilitating the trip, which also includes a delegation from Mauritania. The Syrian group is headed by Hamowi.

The delegations, comprised of government officials, police officers and aid workers, visited the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) on Sunday and discussed the role of social workers in the reintegration of children following abuse.

“Jordan’s family unit works with child victims, detected and suspected cases. They have trained police to work with children, along with social workers and specialised help,” Homsi explained.

Between 1998 and 2004, some 5,283 cases of child victims of all forms of abuse were dealt with by Jordan’s six family protection units based in Amman, Irbid, 85 km north of the capital, and Aqaba, 400 km to the south.

The units are run by the government and supported by UNICEF. Expansion to cover another four governorates is planned for this year.

“There has been a lot of progress in Jordan for dealing with child abuse and other countries can learn from this,” Homsi added.

Although there are no accurate national statistics on child abuse in Syria, a UNICEF study in November 2003 on a sample of 290 schools countrywide revealed that 38 percent of respondents reported verbal abuse from teachers, with 35 percent reporting physical abuse such as beating with a stick.

The delegations were due to meet with the national council for family affairs, the family protection department and the Jordanian women’s union before the three-day visit ends on Wednesday.

In addition, a four member delegation from the Syrian Ministry of Health (MoH) is in Amman to learn about flour fortification.

UNICEF is supporting a pilot project on fortification of flour with iron, run by the Jordanian MoH. Iron deficiency can result in deaths among pregnant women, diminished growth and development, and learning ability in children and low productivity in working adults.

The project started three years ago at the national level and in all of the kingdom’s 10 mills.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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