United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
“We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning children, neglecting the fountain of life. Many of the things we need can wait, the Child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is made and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer tomorrow. His name is To-day.”
Gabriela Mistral of Chile (poetess and Nobel Prize Winner)
UNICEF mandated by United Nations General Assembly considers as a priority to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to mobilize political commitment and material resources to help the most vulnerable children, such as victims of war and social and natural disasters, children in poverty and with special needs.
In May 2002, the historic UN General Assembly Special Session on Children was held. For the first time, the General Assembly met to discuss children’s issues; and for the first time, large numbers of children were included as official members of delegations, representing governments and non-governmental organizations. In the outcome document, Governments declared their commitment to changing the world for and with children – to build a world fit for children in the 21st century.
UNICEF IN KYRGYZSTAN
A UNICEF Global assessment mission for Central Asia arrived to Kyrgyzstan in February 1992 to determine needs and open a dialogue with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. The Basic Agreement signed on 26 of October 1994 by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and UNICEF constitutes the basis of relationship between the Government and UNICEF.
The Kyrgyz Republic was the first Central Asian state to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in January 1994, and then submit its State Report on implementation to the CRC Committee in Geneva. With UNICEF support, Kyrgyzstan has established a unique and important mechanism to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and monitor the status of child rights – New Generation. Since being established in 2000, New Generation has evolved into a viable intersectoral group with representation from a range of relevant Ministries, as well as NGOs and young people themselves. Bringing NGOs onto the agenda and decentralizing the mechanism to province and district levels have recently become major gains.
In 1999, UNICEF conducted a new Life-Cycle situation analysis of children from birth to 18 years in Kyrgyzstan in order to identify cross cutting and underlying causes of problems which limit their growth, development and protection. This has resulted in a new program design for the period of years 2000-2004 signed by Kyrgyz Government and UNICEF on March 29, 2000. It pursues the following goals:
- to ensure that every child has the best start in life;
- to improve the health and nutritional status of mothers;
- to improve the access of children to child-centered learning environments, with special consideration given to children with special needs;
- to ensure young people’s right of access to relevant information and services;
- to ensure the right of young people to express views and opinions on all matters related to adolescent health, education and protection.
Besides, UNICEF supports humanitarian interventions to help meet emergency needs of children and women in crisis areas. UNICEF Kyrgyzstan has joined emergency efforts in assisting Afghanistan in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. Supplies of winter clothing for Afghani children were procured in Bishkek and dispatched in November 2001. A landmine awareness initiative has been supported, and UNICEF conducted an assessment of the landmine situation in Southern Kyrgyzstan. In 2002 and 2003, UNICEF provided humanitarian aid to the population suffered in landslide emergencies.
MOTHER AND CHILD SURVIVAL, DEVELOPMENT AND PROTECTION
This programme seeks to reduce maternal and infant mortality and promote early childhood development through universal access to safe immunisation services, control and prevention of micronutirent deficiency (iron, iodine and Vitamin A), as well as through training professionals in neonatal care services.
As a result of continuous work Kyrgyz Republic has been certified as polio free country in 2002, effective immunization has brought down the rates of incidence of vaccine preventable disease. The incidence of diphtheria cases was reduced from 704 in 1995 to 13 in 2001. The measles trends indicate significant reduction after high-coverage measles-rubella campaigns in 2001 and 2002, and introduction of MMR/MR vaccine in the national schedule in 2002.
This programme is chiefly concerned with the learning environment and supports critical interventions that aim to minimise the extent to which children in the six to twelve year age group are exposed to physical, emotional and sexual intimidation or violence within the home, society and institutional environment.
For achieving the quality of education it is vitally important to make learning environments more child-centred and rights-based. The Ministry of Education and Culture, with support from UNICEF, has adopted and implements the comprehensive Global Education Concept to ensure quality and relevance of learning by improvement and reforming of the basic education curriculum.
UNICEF policy based on the results of the National Research Study on Child Care and Protection has moved the Government to reform the child protection system in 2002. This includes a shift away from ‘institutionalisation’ in favour of support for better family care, family support.
Community involvement has become the primary principle for the Community-based Education Management Information System initiated to create an early warning system to identify children who are at risk of dropping out or having difficulties in acquiring learning competencies. It emphasises community participation in the collection, analysis and use of data and, ultimately, in the educational system itself.
YOUNG PEOPLE’S WELLBEING
The Young People’s Wellbeing Programme aims to promote and develop adolescent health and life skills for youth, with a particular focus on the prevention of HIV/AIDS infection.
HIV/AIDS being one of the UNICEF’s five global priorities is addressed in Kyrgyzstan through the Country UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS chaired by the UNICEF Assistant Representative Richard Young.
Promotion of healthy life styles and prevention of HIV/AIDS are key aims of the Community-Based Youth Radio Project “Healthy Airwaves for Youth”. Youth participation is being widely achieved through youth media projects. Two Media Centres created in Osh and Bishkek in 2001 as CNN Student’s Bureaux, have gained access to the National TV Channel and prepare a monthly youth programme “Skyscraper” that provides a forum for youth related issues including rights protection and health promotion.
To improve the situation with regard to juvenile justice in Kyrgyzstan, UNICEF and Kyrgyz Government are working closely on juvenile justice reform. The objective is to reduce the number of juveniles passing through the formal juvenile justice system and to promote appropriate policy responses for children in conflict with the law or deprived of their liberty.
The UNICEF programmes are designed to incorporate the principles of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and pursue a holistic vision of the child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and psycho-social development.
For more information you can visit www.unicef.org
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