UNICEF boosts funding to help ensure proper nutrition for Kyrgyz children
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - October 17, 2008
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will provide $270,000 in additional funds to help develop a national nutrition strategy in Kyrgyzstan, where more than half of babies and infants are anaemic and many young children suffer from stunted growth as a result of nutrient deficiencies.
“Giving a child a solid nutritional start in life is critical to physical, mental and social development,” stressed UNICEF chief Ann Veneman during her visit to the Central Asian nation, the first-ever by an Executive Director of the agency.
While in the capital, Bishkek, Ms. Veneman also visited the Rehabilitation Centre for Street Children, which provides shelter for some 70 children who have been exposed to violence, exploitation or abuse.
“Many of the children at the Centre 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,” she said. “These children have been robbed of their childhood by the people who are meant to love them the most.”
The Executive Director held talks with Prime Minister Igor Chudinov on a range of issues, including the implementation of legislation to protect the country’s children, as well as the recent establishment of the new government department to coordinate children’s issues.
More than half of the population in Kyrgyzstan – the second poorest country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – lives in poverty and more than one quarter in extreme poverty, affecting more than 60 per cent of children under the age of 14.
Statistics show that at least 50 per cent of Kyrgyz babies aged between six and 24 months are anaemic and nearly 14 per cent of children under five suffer from stunted growth.
UNICEF has been supporting activities in the country since 1994 in areas such as health and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, as well as the rights of marginalized children, children in poverty and children facing discrimination.