UNICEF Regional Director returns from visit to Georgia and Russian Federation
GENEVA, September 2, 2008 – UNICEF is deeply concerned about the grave impact that the recent conflict in and around South Ossetia has had on children and women, said Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Maria Calivis, following visits to Tblisi, Moscow and Vladikavkaz.
Ms. Calivis said displaced children and women she met “have had their whole world turned upside down; they are anxious and insecure. Many are living in very difficult conditions and need special care and support to return to normal life,” she stressed.
She emphasized the importance of children returning to classes as quickly as conditions permit. “Giving children the hope of returning to school provides a sense of normality and hope for the future,” she said. Once it is safe to return home, schools that served as shelters – and those damaged or destroyed in South Ossetia – need to be repaired and equipped as a matter of top priority, so children may start the new school year without undue delay.
In Tblisi, Georgia (27-28 August), Ms. Calivis held meetings with Government representatives and donor agencies to discuss the needs of women and children, as well as UNICEF’s response. Getting children back to school, providing psycho-social support for those in need, mine-risk education, nutrition and hygiene, water and sanitation are among the major areas of intervention for UNICEF in support of Georgia. To date, UNICEF’s assistance there has directly benefited an estimated 46,380 children and family members affected by the conflict.
In Vladikavkaz (30-31 August), North Ossetia, Russian Federation, the Regional Director discussed the situation and needs of children and women with government officials, UN agencies and local and international NGOs. She also had an opportunity to dialogue with children and women who had been displaced from South Ossetia.
During her visits, Ms Calivis welcomed efforts of the authorities in providing immediate assistance to the affected populations, particularly children and women, and said that UNICEF is willing to fill in the gaps, where needed. UNICEF humanitarian assistance was made available from the first days of the crisis, targeting the health, nutrition, water and sanitation and psycho-social needs of displaced children and women in collective centers.
As soon as UN agencies gain humanitarian access to South Ossetia, UNICEF is ready to support the local authorities, communities and NGOs to provide assistance to children and their families affected by the conflict.
Ms. Calivis called on the international donor community to contribute generously in order to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance and on national authorities to ensure effective delivery of the aid to all children.
UNICEF has offices in Tbilsi, Georgia, and in Moscow, and Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia) in the Russian Federation, where it is working closely with government counterparts and partners in the implementation of country programmes of co-operation.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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27 August 2008: UNICEF correspondent Amy Bennett reports on the psycho-social needs of children whose families are taking shelter in North Ossetia, Russian Federation.
27 August 2008: UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on conditions for internally displaced families in Georgia.