International Children’s Day Observance in Ukraine
1 June 2010, Kyiv. Representatives of the Government and the UN agencies in Ukraine participated together in a press conference to celebrate the International Children’s Day in Ukraine. It is a special day, observed worldwide, to draw people's attention to the health and well-being of children. It is also an opportunity to review progress and talk about the challenges countries are still facing to fulfil all the rights of our children.
“Ukraine has made a number of commitments to improve the wellbeing of children - particularly by signing and ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, - noted Olivier Adam, the UN Resident Coordinator, at the event opening. - Year 2010 is of particular importance since this September Ukraine will report on the progress in implementation of this Convention to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva”.
Deputy Minister of Ukraine for Family, Youth and Sport, Svitlana Tolstoukhova informed that “Ministry of Ukraine for Family, Youth and Sport is the only Ministry on the post-Soviet area which succeeded in combining three public policies focused on: childhood policy, family and public youth policy. European Union experts mark it as a positive achievement. It is the hallmark of successful strategy elaboration that we have integrated those policies, they are imprescriptible”.
“The best children’s need accommodating policy should become the fundamental idea to unite the nation. Children's rights should be guaranteed in democratic and open society. This will provide development opportunities to every child, support to every family, young people and people in older age.”
Yukie Mokuo, the UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, outlined challenges that still remain in Ukraine. “In particular, - said Ms. Mokuo, - addressing child poverty, restoring parents’ trust in immunisation, reforming juvenile justice have to be among the national priorities of the new Government. And UNICEF stands ready together with other international organizations and civil society activists to joining efforts for the benefits of children in Ukraine”.
Besides speeches, the event also held an awards ceremony. The UN Office in Ukraine initiated contest “Children of the world, join your hands!” and awarded prizes to six winners. The contest’s goal was to promote human rights and tolerance among children. It was designed for 1-4 grades schools and secondary school students (6-10 years old). The Office received 4120 drawings depicting Ukraine and world free of war, offence and discrimination was pictured by participants from all over Ukraine.
UNHCR Regional Representative in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine Ms. Simone Wolken noted: What does a child need to be happy? To have a place to live, a loving and caring family, to have some food and water to survive, to be protected from a war, violence and exploitation, to have friends, to attend school… Refugee and stateless children are deprived of most of these. There are millions of children who just dream about safety and protection. The UN Refugee Agency works to provide protection to refugees world-wide and most importantly to give refugee and stateless children a hope for the future. You may meet some refugee children in your school or in your neighborhood. Do not turn away, extend your hand to them.
All people on the earth are different – we live in different countries and continents, speak different languages, listen to different music, like different food. The way we behave, the way we dress, our likes and dislikes and many other things make us different. But DIFFERENT does not mean BAD. Different makes each of us so special. Just imagine how boring would be the life if we all were similar. Respect and enjoy the difference and the variety!”.
I am also very happy to greet here today two refugee children – MUSTAFI AMIRI and MUSTAFI MOHAMED. Their family came to seek protection to Ukraine from Syria. Now they live in Zakarpattia region, attending a local school, learning Russian and Ukrainian languages, making local friends.
Note for editors:
As of November 2009, 193 countries have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, believing that the child should be brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, cultural diversity, freedom, equality and solidarity. All children, despite race, color, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property status, etc., have the right for a happy childhood without war, offence and discrimination.
Today, after 21 years since the Convention’s adoption by the UN General Assembly about half of the world’s 2.2 billion children live in poverty, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day, most from preventable causes, with undernutrition contributing to about one-third of these deaths. Millions of children are denied primary education, and hundreds of millions have no access to safe drinking water or decent sanitation facilities.
The winners of the contest are: