EU and UNICEF Azerbaijan Unveil 3.3 Million Euro Initiative to Protect Vulnerable Children and Young

Looking into your eyes gives me a lot of energy to continue to work for your interests and create more opportunities for each of you.

Sina Jones
UNICEF Azerbaijan/2019/Zeynalov

13 June 2019

BAKU -- “Looking into your eyes gives me a lot of energy to continue to work for your interests and create more opportunities for each of you. Azerbaijan’s…National Children’s Paralympic Committee [is] a great example to the world,” said Mr. Johannes Hahn, European Union (EU) Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, during a special event celebrating the launch of a 3.3 million Euro initiative between the EU and UNICEF.  His sentiment was met with cheers by the group of children with disabilities and parents in attendance to celebrate the launch. 

UNICEF Azerbaijan/2019/Zeynalov
A new joint initiative between the European Union (EU) and UNICEF to protect the rights of the most vulnerable children and young people in Azerbaijan was unveiled.

The investment by the EU is the largest contribution made by a development partner to UNICEF Azerbaijan since UNICEF began its work here 25 years ago. “Today is very much a celebration,” said Mr. Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan, “Firstly we are celebrating the launch of this exciting new collaboration between the EU and UNICEF...even more importantly we are celebrating today the impact we can have on children and families when we are better able to identify, reach out to and connect with those in the most need.”

The initiative will contribute to enhancement of civil society as a valued and trusted ‘third sector’ to work alongside public and private sector entities in delivering the broadest range of support to vulnerable children across the country through community-based organisations. It will also contribute to the establishment of national standards across several sectors, strengthened technical and management capacities of civil society, and the modelling of high impact, cost-effective services and programmes in areas such as social protection and inclusion, early childhood development, youth development, and child health and nutrition at national and sub-national level through the engagement of CSOs.  

“Indeed, children are our future and any step we take should be focusing on the priorities of the children,” said Mr. Anar Karimov, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Population, who was also in attendance.

UNICEF Azerbaijan/2019/Zeynalov

“By reaching out to more children and families in communities across Azerbaijan we can promote individual excellence, create opportunities that challenge discrimination and stigma, address and prevent vulnerabilities, and build social inclusion for those who too often can be left behind, or left out,” continued Mr. Carwardine.

The initiative was launched with the support of the National Children’s Paralympic Committee, one of several civil society organizations that will work with UNICEF in the new initiative.  “We can see over six years we have mobilized over 200 children,” said Mr. Kamal Mammadov, director of the National Children’s Paralympic Committee. “Parents were shy, hiding their children at home.  We went door to door to find these parents.  These parents are here and proud of their children.”

During the event, youth showcased the skills they’ve developed through their participation with the Paralympic Committee’s sponsored activities, providing demonstrations in Tae Kwon Do, dance, table tennis, power lifting and boccia. 

“My daughter loves coming here,” said Dilara Safquliyeva, who’s 13-year-old daughter has been participating in boccia with the Committee for six years. “We are so proud of our children and appreciate this opportunity to show their talents.” 

“Through this initiative we’re going to be able to deliver more services and improve the quality of those services...for more children, and more families in more parts of the country,” said Mr. Carwardine.