Children living in the streets and sniffing the glue or locked in institutions lacking parental love and care; children with disabilities, who are left out and stigmatized; children in poor families denied their most basic rights to survival and development; children affected by war and forced to leave their homes; children without rights … and parents, suffering from unemployment and poverty; parents deprived of their basic right to take care of their children - this is the reality of today’s Georgia, the reality that wake us up.
Georgia, an ancient and beautiful country, once the wealthiest Republic of the former Soviet Union, now presents vast challenges to its women and children. A minimum of 50 per cent of families live below the poverty line. Public investment in social sectors remains one of the lowest investments throughout the entire region. The failure to regain previous levels of material welfare severely affects the capacity of the State to ensure children’s rights such as access to adequate health care, protection and quality education.
Incidence of disease and high mortality rates among children is significant, with basic health and nutrition provisions and a safe environment beyond reach for many of them. The anticipated costs for medical care, in addition to low family awareness of public insurance benefits, discourage many people in Georgia, the poor in particular, from seeking medical care when they need it.
Some school-age children find themselves compelled to leave school to help their families earn a living. Economic hardships cause many families to send their children to orphanages. Social orphans account for 95 per cent of institutionalised children in Georgia. The absence of a coherent national child protection policy, as well as comprehensive and consistent data, continues to result in considerable drawbacks in protecting the rights of children.
Conflicts with secessionist regions have marked the period following independence and have resulted in mass migration within the country as well as endless personal tragedies. Armed conflicts in Georgia’s two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, have resulted in the internal displacement of approximately 300,000 people, including 140,000 children. The situation of children residing within the territories of the breakaway republics is furthermore alarming.
Over the past several years, Georgia has made progress in increasing children’s rights—comprehensive reforms have been launched in health and education sectors and steps have been undertaken to bring the national legislation in accordance to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The country has progressed in areas, such as immunization and prevention of micronutrient deficiencies. Furthermore, the Government has adopted the De-institutionalization Policy, affording many children in institutions their basic right to have a family.
However, rights are to be ensured for Every Child in Georgia. Our purpose is to assist children in all aspects, especially those who suffer from lack of basic rights. UNICEF strives to facilitate the realization of these rights among the child population throughout Georgia.
UNICEF in Georgia
UNICEF has worked in Georgia since 1993. The new programme of cooperation with the government of Georgia focuses on the following areas: Early Childhood Care and Development, Child Protection, Advocacy and Social Monitoring for Children’s Rights. The main partners of UNICEF include central and local governments, UN agencies and international organisations, donors as well as NGOs and media.
The 2006-2010 Country Programme contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to the ongoing national social reform process in the area of child care, health and education by providing support to:
Our aim is to provide the right for all children to survive and develop. We act to ensure that pregnant women in Georgia have access to proper nutrition as well as prenatal and delivery care. We assist in the survival of children during their early years through providing immunization, education for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and by facilitating the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies.
By purchasing and distributing vaccines, syringes and other supplies, we ensure that children in Georgia are vaccinated and protected against measles, polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus, whooping cough and Hepatitis.
We act to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS among young people by providing relevant educational information that will equip them for HIV/AIDS protection and prevention.
We aim to give children the best start in life by educating families about early child care and development. We have equipped resource centres for parents’ education and have produced Television programmes and informational materials.
We take action to remove barriers that prevent disabled children from enrolling in school by supporting pilot projects involving kindergartens and schools in Tbilisi where disabled children study and attend school together with their able-bodied peers.
We are here to bring children back a hope for a better future
UNICEF aims to reduce the number of children living in institutions and bring these children back to families. It is possible to prevent the institutional placement of children through direct support to vulnerable families. So far, 800 children have been returned from institutions to a family environment, thanks to UNICEF and our partners.
Our organisation aims to reform the Juvenile Justice System in Georgia by ensuring that prison is the last resort for young delinquents. We act to make the system more child-friendly.
Acting to ensure that all children’s voices are heard in the decision making process which directly affects them and their lives, we support the Children and Youth Parliament, youth centres, youth sport activities, and young journalists’ networks.