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When the safety net fails. Children in West and Central Africa and the risk of HIV infection

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Plan International

The overall aims of the study were to improve the offer of psychosocial support services for children in West and Central Africa and to stimulate the creation of a network of services providers. The specific objectives were to assess the mental health and psychosocial needs of children in different study sites; analyze the existing institutions which provide psychosocial support to children in the region; identify best practices and lessons learnt in the field and make recommendations for strengthening psychosocial support programming in the region.The study investigated the psychosocial impact of different high risk situations in West and Central Africa such as trafficking, ethnic cleansing, armed conflict or parental loss. Researchers short listed areas that were known to be particularly affected by one particular context and opted for the following sites:• child trafficking for labour in Togo; • children expelled for ethnic reasons from Cote d’Ivoire in Burkina Faso; • loss of parents in an area with a high HIV rate in Cameroon; • growing up without parental support in post-conflict Sierra Leone; and • former association with the fighting forces in Liberia.

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