|© UNICEF video|
|In the tiny Moldovan village of Rublenita, 60 per cent of the working population has left to find employment elsewhere. The children they leave behind are often in need of supervision, guidance and parental support.|
By Vladimir Lozinski
On 18 October, UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre will launch ‘Social Monitor 2006: Understanding Child Poverty in South-Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States’, a report urging governments to tackle child poverty in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Here is the latest in a series of related stories.
RUBLENITA, Moldova, 17 October 2006 – At least 500,000 of Moldova’s 3.6 million people have left the country in search of work. Left behind are an estimated 150,000 to 270,000 children without either a mother or a father, and around 40,000 who are separated from both parents.
Some of these children live with relatives or neighbours, while others are left in the care of institutions.
In the tiny village of Rublenita, 60 per cent of the working population has left for Russia or Italy. Fifteen-year old Maria Martin lives here with her seven-year-old brother, Ion. They are looked after by their grandmother.
Need for services
Maria lost her father four years ago, and her mother works in a shop in Moscow. They live on what they can grow in the family garden and on money sent by their mother.
|© UNICEF video|
|Maria, 15, and her brother Ion, 7, are looked after by their grandmother. The children lost their father four years ago, and their mother works in a shop in Moscow.|
“I see my mother in my dreams a lot,” says Maria, who wants to be a painter when she grows up. “I see her coming home and staying with me. I always dream about her coming home”.
The phenomenon of ‘abandoned children’ like Maria is new to Moldova, and there are virtually no services in place to deal with the issue.
“In some cases the parents are sending money home, and of course they can live from this money,” says UNICEF Assistant Project Officer Angelina Zaporojan-Pirgari. “But nothing can compensate for the lack of parental care for these children, so they are facing many psychological problems – also social inclusion problems.”
Danger of child trafficking
And there is a more sinister aspect to the lack of supervision of these vulnerable and impressionable children.
“Moldova has become one of the main countries of origin for trafficking victims as well,” says Ms. Zaporojan-Pirgari. “We are trying to prevent them from becoming easy prey to traffickers."
While it is impossible to replace a missing parent, UNICEF is working with local communities and religious groups to help children cope with the difficulties of being left on their own. A network of social workers is to be established in every village in order to address the needs of children and refer them to specialized services if necessary.
UNICEF is also supporting government efforts to improve social policies and services – thereby offering more protection to children and their families in need.
Social Monitor 2006
18 million children in poverty [with video]
Economic hardship affects children in Moldova [with video]
Keeping families together in Georgia [with video]
BBC News: Plea for action on child poverty
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