UNICEF Executive Director visits Kyrgyzstan
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, 16 October 2008
Ann M. Veneman, on the first ever visit by a UNICEF Executive Director to Kyrgyzstan, highlighted the plight of street children who have been exposed to violence, exploitation or abuse.
Veneman visited the Rehabilitation Center for Street Children in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, which provides shelter for approximately 70 children.
“Many of the children at the Center are from homes where domestic violence was a daily event, or where alcoholism and social and economic problems left families unable to cope or to care properly for their children,” said Veneman. “These children have been robbed of their childhood by the people who are meant to love them the most.”
The Executive Director met with Prime Minister Igor Chudinov to discuss implementation of child protection legislation and the recent establishment of the new government department to coordinate children’s issues. Veneman also discussed child nutrition with the Prime Minister, announcing $270,000 in additional funds from UNICEF which will help support the development of a national nutrition strategy.
Over 50 per cent of babies aged 6-24 months are anemic and approximately 13.7 per cent of the nation’s under-fives suffer from stunted growth in the Kyrgyz Republic. This is mainly due to micronutrient deficiencies.
“Giving a child a solid nutritional start in life is critical to physical, mental and social development,” said Veneman.