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One child abandoned each day in Moldova, says UNICEF

© UNICEF/SWZK00263/Pirozzi
Child in an institution in Moldova

Chisinau/Geneva, July 18, 2005:     At least one child under seven is abandoned each day in Moldova, often in the earliest days of life, according to UNICEF. This is the alarming finding of a UNICEF-supported study on child abandonment carried out by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and Ministry of Education, under the coordination of the National Council for the Protection of the Rights of the Child.

The study, launched today in Chisinau, finds that one third of those abandoned by their parents are less than four days old.

One in five of the women who abandon their babies have never been pregnant before, and 60% are single mothers, according to the study – the first of its kind in Moldova. Poverty is believed to be the underlying cause of child abandonment, compounded by the conservative attitudes that still persist in society, lack of support to single mothers, lack of knowledge among adolescents, and a weak social protection system that lacks specialized services for vulnerable families and children.

One of the most disturbing patterns is that nine out of ten children under seven-years old that were abandoned in health care facilities and residential institutions are not orphans at all – they have living parents.  At the same time, very few of them are “rescued” by adoptive or foster families. Most of them never find a family.  

Separation from parents, especially in the first few days of life, undermines the overall development and well-being of the young child, with serious consequences for their physical and emotional development.

“The findings of the study are cause for grave concern”, stated Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Moldova.  “We call on the Government to take immediate action. First, to  put effective measures in place to prevent unwanted pregnancies and child abandonment. But we also need action to stop abandoned children going into institutions, where their development is severely jeopardized. The development of foster care networks, and the promotion of national adoption need to be top priorities for the Government of Moldova”.  

Strategies are needed to prevent child abandonment and provide services for vulnerable women so that children stay with their families. According to UNICEF, children should not be deprived of their first line of protection – their parents – or their right to grow up in a family environment.

The study draws up recommendations to prevent abandonment and reduce the number of young children entering the residential care system, by creating a truly protective environment for them.

The act of abandonment is usually the result of a long series of events,” said Kirsten Di Martino, UNICEF Child Protection Officer. “The problems facing parents often start long before the mother enters the maternity ward. To avoid the tragedy of abandonment, the social support system needs to have social services and professional social workers in place to identify families at risk and offer them timely and effective support.  It is also vital to ensure that young people receive life-skills education, including information on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies. They need Youth- friendly Centres where they can come and talk about their problems and get relevant information.  We also need to change the attitudes that discriminate against single mothers and illegitimate children and we must encourage more families to become foster and adoptive parents”.

For more information:

Violeta Cojocaru, UNICEF Communication Officer, (+373 22) 22 00 34; email:




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