|Photo taken by Magomed Bamatkireev, 14, who lost a leg during military operations in Chechnya, graces one of the billboards erected by ECHO and UNICEF.|
NEW YORK, USA, 13 April 2007 – Fourteen billboards funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) have been set up by UNICEF in Chechnya.
The images on the billboards reflect children’s hopes for a return to normality following years of violence. They were taken by Chechen children who participated in a photography workshop funded by ECHO and organized by UNICEF in 2006.
Two photos selected by the children themselves are displayed on the huge signs, which are located in populous urban areas.
One image – taken by Magomed Bamatkireev, 14, who lost a leg during military operations in Chechnya – shows a smiling girl with a jump-rope leaping high against a blue sky. The other photo – shot by Maryam Sadulayeva, 17 – shows a boy playing with drops of water, surrounded by the hands of his peers.
‘She deserves to live in peace’
The billboards were widely welcomed by the local population.
“I was so touched by the image of this very beautiful smiling jumping girl,” said Fatima Ibraghimova, a teacher at school No. 42 in the Chechen Republic’s capital, Grozny. “When you look at her, you think that there is no room for wars, destruction and anything negative. She is so happy! She deserves to live in peace and happiness.”
|An image shot by Maryam Sadulayeva, 17, was also selected for the ECHO-UNICEF billboards now drawing public attention in Chechnya.|
Tamusa Eldarova of Chechnya’s Ministry of Labour and Social Development added that the presence of “such humane billboards” testified to the “normalization of the situation in Chechnya. It’s high time to improve life of children. ECHO and UNICEF are doing so much to improve life of the population of Chechnya.”
As young photographer Magomed observed: “The jumping girl is a symbol of Chechnya coming back to life.”
European Commission and UNICEF partnership
The European Commission has been providing assistance in the North Caucasus since 1999. It does this largely through its humanitarian aid department, ECHO. It was this department that funded the youth photography workshop, just one of numerous joint projects supported by ECHO and UNICEF in the Chechen Republic.
Only last September the EC donated €9.5 million to UNICEF specifically for the education and health sectors in the Chechen Republic and the Republic of Ingushetia. These funds are already being used to train as many as 3,000 teachers and equip schools and health facilities, including two large hospitals in Grozny.
Since 2001, with ECHO funding, UNICEF has been supporting water and sanitation and mine risk education programmes, and has provided psychosocial rehabilitation to children in Chechnya. In addition, education interventions – including provision of textbooks and other materials – have been carried out in Chechnya and Ingushetia.
UNICEF itself has been providing assistance to children and mothers in the North Caucasus since late 1999. The organization has implemented projects valued at over $40 million there, in partnership with local authorities and international and local NGOs. In the region, UNICEF specializes in education, health, water and sanitation, child rights’ advocacy, mine action, psychological rehabilitation and promotion of peace and tolerance.
CEE/CIS regional website
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UNICEF and the EU