Georgia: poverty reduction must start with children
New UNICEF Country Programme, 2006 – 2010, aims to improve health care for vulnerable children, reform child welfare system and promote better monitoring of children’s rightsTBILISI. 27 April, 2005: Ms Maria Calivis, Regional Director for UNICEF in Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltics is visiting Georgia (25-27 April). Her first visit to Georgia has included meetings with high level government officials to discuss UNICEF’s new Country Programme of cooperation and to see the challenges faced by children and women in Georgia.
“We congratulate the Government of Georgia for its efforts to tackle the iodine deficiency disorders, to improve vaccination coverage and to procure 40 per cent of the vaccines needed in Georgia in 2005,” says Maria Calivis. “The establishment of the Governmental Committee on Child Care and adoption of the Plan of Action on de-institutionalization are also major breakthroughs in securing the rights of children to be raised in a family environment.”
“But child protection remains a concern,” she says. “There are many children in Georgia who are suffering from the impact of extreme poverty and family disintegration – children who are left out of society. These children deserve a better life.”
The new Programme will focus on three main areas: Early Childhood Development, to improve the quality and accessibility of health and nutrition services with a special focus to the most disadvantaged groups; Child Protection, to support the Government in developing a child welfare policy and in providing specific services to get children out of institutions, strengthen juvenile justice and ensure mainstream education for children with disabilities; Advocacy and Social Monitoring for Child Rights, to strengthen the capacity of the Government in social policy planning for women and children and to help the media and civil society in monitoring and advocating for child rights.
Ms Calivis’s visit to Georgia has included meetings with First Lady Ms Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, the Speaker of Parliament Ms. Nino Burjanadze, the Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Affairs Mr George Tsereteli, the Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs Mr Vladimer Chipashvili, the Minister of Education and Science Mr Alexander Lomaia and the Minister of Economy Mr Alex Alexishvili.
Ms Calivis also met with the UN Country Team in Georgia, the donor community, NGOs and young people. Her agenda included visits to UNICEF-supported programmes: an immunization clinic, a resource centre for parents’ education on early childhood development and the Mother and Children’s Shelter and the Tbilisi Infants’ House, which aims to prevent the abandonment of infants.
“Children must be seen as the main priority for this country,” says Calivis. “UNICEF will continue to advocate for acceleration of reforms that will lead to effective social policy, and to increased budget expenditures for the social sector. Without addressing poverty and child rights – without children who are nurtured, healthy and well-educated -- it will be impossible to achieve a Georgia fit for children”.
For further information:
Maya Kurtsikidze, Communication Officer, UNICEF Georgia