UNICEF's Statement on Iranian Children
On the occasion of Children’s Day in Iran UNICEF wishes to congratulate all Iranian children, their parents, and those who work with and on behalf of children. Yet this important day should not only be about play. It’s also a good moment to remind ourselves that while important achievements have been made in Iran to improve the lives of children, much more still needs to be done. Indeed, in some important areas children are facing new threats.
Although national statistics overall show a satisfactory picture of the state of Iranian children, these figures obscure that in some areas poorer provinces like Sistan and Balochestan a high percentage of children are underweight and malnourished. According to surveys conducted by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education of Iran, 11 % of children under five years from Kerman province are underweight, in Sistan and Baluchestan it raises to 16 %. In these states and in other rural parts of the country, new approaches to child health and nutrition should be explored. If children of rural Iran are to grow up enjoying the same opportunities as children in cities, then more needs to be done to ensure rural malnutrition is a thing of the past.
Unicef Iran enjoys excellent cooperation with the judiciary and police force on the introduction of international standards pertaining to juvenile justice. This has led to the start of alternative sentences being given to juveniles and the use of diversion mechanisms away from the justice system. Despite this progress and other achievements made in this area, death verdicts are still being issued in juvenile cases, in contradiction of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
UNICEF works in close partnership with government and NGOs at a national and local level on projects for AIDS education, rural childcare, and community nutrition. New partnerships with religious universities will ensure that child-rights-promotion conform with Islamic teaching. UNICEF also responds to emergencies, like the Bam earthquake, not only in the immediate aftermath but in the rehabilitation phase. Working together, real improvements in the lives of children has been achieved. Important lessons have been learned on successful approaches and these could be expanded onto a bigger scale.
The future of Iran is in its youth. Indeed, in terms of the median age of its population, Iran is one of the world’s youngest countries. So our last concern is an invitation to you, Iran’s media. A country that respects the rights of its children will create adults capable of defending the rights of all citizens. As disseminators of information and watchdogs of governance UNICEF invites you to work with us to find fresh approaches to covering and publicizing children’s issues. In the last two decades huge progress has made improving the lives of children in Iran. In the next two decades even more can be achieved