Children remain the poorest in Georgia, UNICEF says
The Government of Georgia and UNICEF evaluate a joint programme of cooperation during an official visit of the UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and CIS to Georgia
TBILISI, 4 March 2014 - The percentage of children living below the national poverty line increased from 25 per cent in 2011 to 27 per cent in 2013 as social spending was more focused on other groups. Over the last two years, extreme poverty among children has reduced but remains higher than among the rest of the population. Georgia has the second highest rate of inequality in Europe. These are the major highlights while the Government and UNICEF review the situation of children in Georgia.
Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (on the left), Mr Irakli Garibashvili, Prime-Minister of Georgia and Mr Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Georgia at the mid-term review meeting on 4 March 2014 - UNICEF Georgia / Khizanishvili / 2014
The Prime-Minister of Georgia Mr Irakli Garibashvili and the UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier chaired the round-table discussion to assess the progress achieved in implementation of the joint programme of cooperation between the Government and UNICEF. Ministers of Education, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Justice, Corrections, Finance as well as Public Defender highlighted major challenges and achievements in their respective areas and discussed recommendations as well as next steps.
“I would like to congratulate the Government of Georgia on the progress achieved during the last three years,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “The Government has taken important steps to improve the social situation in the country, including providing free health insurance, doubling social benefits. However, there are still far too many children who are being left behind: children living in poverty, children with disabilities, children victims of violence, rural children and those living in hard-to reach and conflict affected areas.”
Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States at the mid-term review meeting on 4 March 2014 - UNICEF Georgia / Khizanishvili / 2014
Maternal mortality remains the highest and Under 5 Mortality is the third highest in Europe and Central Asia; three times the European average. Two thirds of all 15-year-olds are not proficient in reading, math and science, which are the worst results in Europe; approximately three times the European average. Half of all children -- 70 per cent among the poor -- do not have access to pre-school which significantly affects children’s school readiness and educational achievements.
After eight years of Georgia’s Child Care System Reform, there has been real progress on ensuring a family environment for every child. Children with disabilities now account for most of the children who still live in the last remaining state-run institutions. Some 40 per cent of the Georgian public stigmatizes children with disabilities.
Much progress has been made for children in conflict with the law. The number of children in prisons has halved. But children coming in contact with the justice system still lack adequate child-friendly treatment and services.
Many recommendations on how to address these challenges have already been included into the National Human Rights Action Plan. UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of Georgia to bring about the significant changes in the next few months.
“We would also like to see Georgia taking some bolder steps in the following areas: ensuring cash child benefits for all children except those who do not need it; providing multi nutrient supplements for all children from 6 to 24 months; transferring good models of collaboration between the Government and civil society in the child care reform to other areas including HIV/AIDS; and greater inter-ministerial coordination on child protection and child rights’ monitoring”, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
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