January 2007, President Bakiev meets UNICEF Representative Tim Schaffter
Bishkek. House of the government of the Kyrgyz Republic. 18 January - President of the Kyrgyz Republic Kurmanbek Bakiev met the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Kyrgyzstan Representative Tim Schaffter.
During the meeting, they discussed child protection issues in Kyrgyzstan as well as activities related to the realization of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in the country.
Schaffter praised the level of cooperation between UNICEF and the National Secretariat on women, family and gender issues under the president’s office. He emphasized the leading role the body has taken in tackling child protection issues in Kyrgyzstan. “Kyrgyzstan’s child protection system is used as a model to be reproduced in other countries of the CEE\CIS region,” Schaffter stressed.
The Code on Children, adopted by the state recently, is a comprehensive and complementary tool for Convention of the Rights of the Child implementation in Kyrgyzstan, said Schaffter. “It is a huge step forward. Now it’s vital to reinforce legal mechanisms with real authority. UNICEF will support implementation of the code and contribute to the establishment of a special national body promoting children’s rights.”
Schaffter also expressed UNICEF’s commitment to support the state and other donors in implementation of health, education and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in the country.
The president expressed gratitude and praised the comprehensive level of cooperation between UNICEF and its partners in the area of promoting children’s rights and in ensuring every Kyrgyz child has the best start in life. Bakiev stressed: “Children’s issues are at the top of my agenda, and they are prioritized at the state level. Kyrgyzstan invests in real projects aimed at building the best environment for children”. UNICEF’s support in developing the Code on Children was highly praised by the president.
During the meeting Bakiev and Schaffter exchanged views on the promotion of healthy life styles. “Sport should take children away from the streets and risky behaviour,” said the president. Bakiev emphasized that this year, programmes promoting healthy life styles were being supported by the state and local authorities through the construction of new sports and recreation facilities in the country. Free hot meals for junior classes, a new initiative of the Kyrgyzstan government, has also had a significant positive impact on school attendance rates.
Concerning the national body on promoting children’s rights, Bakiev shared plans on the state agency on children and youth, established under a new government structure. The president will bring child, family and gender issues to the top of the national agenda. He also stressed that in forming a new government, female nominees will be introduced for parliament’s approval.
“Child health protection needs special attention from the government, especially in remote areas. Families having many children usually have limited access to medical services. If we don’t pay attention to child health from the very beginning, we can lose a whole generation” said Bakiev.
Schaffter thanked the president for being frank and openly admitting there are challenges with issues relating to children. “Such a position opens room for cooperation to tackle problems.”
In conclusion, Bakiev expressed hope that an effective partnership between UNICEF and the government would continue.