World Orphans Day : A Persistent Global Crisis
World Orphans Day provides the opportunity to illuminate on the dire consequences that wars, famine, natural disasters and other factors have on fragile and vulnerable children.
The idea to dedicate a day to orphans was a direct result of the plight of the British "Star Foundation" in 2003, to shed light on the unique struggles of orphans and address their emotional needs. This strong devotion to protecting orphan children quickly spread to other countries, particularly Egypt when a volunteer of Egypt's largest charitable organization, namely Al Dar-Orman Charity Association, suggested that a day must be devoted to the orphan child as a reminder to society of the struggles faced by orphans forced to grow up alone.
This was positively received by public figures and the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity. In 2006, the Al Dar-Orman Charity Association obtained an official decision to establish a Day for Orphans from the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs in its 26th session, and thus it was decided that the first Friday of April would be an annual Middle Eastern celebration of Arab Orphans Day.
In 2010, the Al Dar-Orman Charity Association was listed in the Guinness Book of Records due to an organized gathering of 4,550 orphan children, waving Egyptian flags, to attract and support the needs of orphans locally in the Giza Governate, and internationally.
The Orphan Crisis is a global issue that must not be ignored. According to UNICEF, approximately 10,000 children become orphans every day. Moreover, there are at least 140 million orphans in the world today, according to internationally accepted figures.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights praises the growing global interest in orphans, as the committed efforts have led to a consistent decline in the total number of orphans. However, the number has declined slowly, at a rate of only 0.7% since 2001 and furthermore, the emergence of new man-made or natural causes such as the Covid-19 pandemic, have exacerbated the growing number of orphan children.
Hence the Institute continues to appeal to states, governmental, non-governmental organizations and willing and capable individuals to unify efforts and cooperate closely to ensure that the needs of these children are met and to alleviate the negative consequences of disasters that children most likely fall victim to. It is evident that the effects of Covid-19 have not been equally distributed, with its most damaging effects harming those already disadvantaged or in vulnerable situations.
Similarly, the Institute strongly urges that orphans are ensured the full enjoyment of their right to education and health, without discrimination.
It is important to note that orphaned children who are often unable to maintain a decent standard of living, are often left vulnerable and exposed to the consequent effects of crisis, instability and wars that stunt both their psychological and physical health. Across the world, especially in countries of North Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, orphaned children are exposed to a diverse array of threats including displacement, famine and the deprivation of the most basic necessities including healthcare, as well as their physical and sexual exploitation in armed conflict.
Therefore, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights calls on governments, key international partners and human right organizations to strive diligently to ensure that orphans are protected against physical and psychological abuse and are guaranteed their basic human rights through the provision of extensive financial and social support.