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Protect children affected by school crisis in Transnistrian region, Moldova

UNICEF CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILDREN AFFECTED BY THE “SCHOOL CRISIS” IN THE TRANSNISTRIAN REGION, MOLDOVA

Chisinau, July 28, 2004

UNICEF Moldova expresses its serious concern over the actions taken against the schools in Tiraspol, Bender and Ribnita, which use Latin script and the attempts to close these schools by force.

UNICEF is especially worried about the situation of children in the Bender orphanage which has been seized by local authorities. The children are currently without water and electricity.

Over 300 children usually live in this orphanage. 60 children have already returned from their summer vacation only to find the orphanage closed and surrounded by militia. After spending the night outdoors, a group of children aged 7-15 defied the Transnistrian militia and forced their way into the orphanage on Tuesday morning. They are now inside the buildings while the militia continues to block access.  UNICEF and OSCE representatives were able to enter the buildings and provide water and food to the children. More children are returning to the orphanage each day.
 
“The actions taken by the Transnistrian authorities to prevent schools which use Latin script from functioning properly violate the fundamental rights of children. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Moldova is a party, every child has the right to education in his or her own language”, stated Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative to Moldova. “We are seriously concerned about the sanitary condition inside the Bender orphanage and the lack of water and food”.

UNICEF calls on all concerned parties not to use children in political disputes and to negotiate as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the current situation while ensuring that the rights of all children are fully respected. It also urges parties to honor earlier agreements and allow the schools to function normally.

For further information:  

Violeta Cojocaru, Communication Officer,
Tel: (373 22) 22 00 34
Cell: (373) 691 23 630

Kirsten Di Martino, Child Protection Officer,
Tel: (373 22) 22 00 34
Cell: (373) 691 16 555

Angela Hawke, Communication Officer, (Geneva)
Tel: (41 22) 909 5433
Cell: (41 79) 601 9917

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