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“Chechnya through the Eyes of Children”: Photography exhibition opens in Chechnya

UNICEF in the North Caucasus
© UNICEF/RF/2006/Bela Tsugaeva
Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Area Representative, met with the artists of the exhibition photographs.

17 November 2006, Grozny - More than a hundred people, including senior officials from the Government of Chechnya, representatives from international agencies, local media and the local community today attended the opening of a photography exhibition called “Chechnya through the Eyes of Children”. This exhibition, which will run for a fortnight, is presented by UNICEF with financial assistance from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and is on display in the premises of the Youth Affairs Committee of the Government of Chechnya.

“In my photos I tried to tell the adults that we, the children of Chechnya, need protection and care,” - Yaser Osterkhanov, age 12.

Composed of photographs taken by 10 Chechen children trained by UNICEF and ECHO in photography, the exhibition reflects life in Chechnya as children see it. The opening ceremony was attended by the children themselves who explained to the gathering the messages they wanted to send to the audience through their photos.

“In my photos I tried to tell the adults that we, the children of Chechnya, need protection and care,” said Yaser Osterkhanov, a 12 year-old orphan and contributor of a number of photos. “We want to live under a bright, peaceful sky. Don’t we deserve it?” he added.

The exhibition was opened by Lechi Yahyaev, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Chechnya, who said: “On behalf of the Government of Chechnya I would like to express gratitude to UNICEF and ECHO for organising this exhibition. It is a very good idea to look at the situation in Chechnya from children’s point of view. I think that this exhibition can be viewed as a bridge of understanding between children and adults. We should have more events like this in future”.

Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Area Representative in the Russian Federation (RF) and Belarus, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in RF welcomed the guests and thanked the Chechen Government for its support.

“The children’s perspective is realistic, yet optimistic,” he said to the invited gathering. “This can be considered a first step in allowing young people to express their perceptions in the Chechen Republic; we hope this opens the door for more children’s participation. This should not be the end, this should be the beginning,” Mr. de Rooy added.

Samuel Marie-Fanon, ECHO Representative in Russian Federation also spoke at the opening: “I met with these 10 kids in July when they had taken lots of pictures and they were so excited and focussed on selecting the best ones for this exhibition. I must say that I am deeply impressed by the images taken by the children and their view of the present Chechnya”.

“I regularly go on missions to Chechnya, but I realize, a child’s eye sometimes sees the world differently than we adults do,” Mr. Marie-Fanon added.

Ten photographers whose work is being exhibited in Grozny.
The ten young photographers whose work is on exhibition in Grozny.

Children’s groups were also invited to the opening of the exhibition. They recited poems, danced and sang songs turning the event into a real celebration. The exhibition is expected to be widely covered by the media in Chechnya.

For more information:

John Brittain, Communications Officer, UNICEF in the Russian Federation
Tel: 937-4812; +7 (495) 761-6648

Elena Kharitonova, Assistant Communications Officer, UNICEF in the Russian Federation
Tel: 937-2195; +7 (916) 238-0154




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