Funds aim to turn back tide of children going into institutions.
TOKYO/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 31 August 2004 – The Government of Japan is donating more than US$ 2 million to UNICEF to get children out of orphanages and other residential institutions across Central Asia. The announcement coincides with a tour of Central Asia by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, which ended today.
Around 32,000 children in institutions in Central Asia, plus 30,000 families that are at risk of institutionalising their children, will benefit from the contribution of approximately 235 million yen. The funds will be divided between the five Central Asian countries, with US$ 444,000 for Kazakhstan, US$ 379,000 for the Kyrgyz Republic, US$ 369,000 for Tajikistan, US$ 369,000 for Turkmenistan and US$ 439,000 for Uzbekistan.
The funds, from the Japanese Trust Fund for Human Security, will go to the UNICEF supported-project: “Every Child Has a Right to Grow up in a Family Environment”, aiming to turn back the tide of children going into institutions in these countries. The Soviet legacy of state care for children in difficulties, coupled with rising poverty, means that around 200,000 children are growing up in long-term residential care across the region – almost 84,000 of them in Kazakhstan alone. The major stumbling block to getting them out of institutions and back into a family environment is the lack of alternatives, with few social workers or services to help families in difficulties, few regulations on domestic adoption, fostering and guardianship, and the absence of proper norms and standards on child protection. Meanwhile, new children’s homes are still being opened.
“This contribution will help to create a child protection system that focuses on the best interests of individual children and families,” said Juan Aguilar, UNICEF Area Representative for Central Asia.
“Our goal is to help families in difficult situations stay together, without feeling compelled to consign their children to long-term institutional care. And, in cases where children are separated from their parents, we aim to provide alternatives that take a family-based approach, such as guardianship, foster care and domestic adoption. Above all, we must protect the right of every child to grow up in a family environment.”
The project will assess the current situation, establish community-based social services and centres to focus on the specific needs of children and families, sensitise professionals and experts on this issue, boost the capacity of professionals to respond to children and families in need and at risk, and promote foster care at the community level.
Japan established the Trust Fund for Human Security in March 1999, with total contributions of 25.9 billion yen (approx. US$ 227 million). The Trust Fund has assisted more than 100 UN agency projects to address various threats to human life, livelihood and dignity, from a Human Security perspective.
For more information, please contact:
Angela Hawke, UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS, Baltics
Tel: (00 4122) 909 5433. Mob: (++ 4179) 601 9917,
Ikuko Yamaguchi, UNICEF Geneva, (00 4122) 909 5727
Kathryn Donovan, UNICEF New York, (001 212) 326 7452