A great number of children in Russia remain highly vulnerable
On International Children’s Day UNICEF reinforces its support for Russian children
Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative in the Russian Federation, said: "While UNICEF is happy that children's rights are commemorated on the 1st of June, we would like to see every day of the year being an “International Children's Day”, including in Russia, where children also remain highly vulnerable.”
Mr. de Rooy outlined three key paradigm shifts that would improve the situation of children in Russia:
1. From a dependence on child institutions to family-based care and support to birth families
UNICEF experience shows that long-term or permanent deprivation of parental rights, a practice that is widely used in Russia, is not always in the best interests of the child. Support to orphans is a necessary and important measure, but children in institutions still desperately need loving parents and family.
Ten years ago, the concept of family-based care being preferable to state-provided care was not widely considered or discussed, let alone agreed. Now, that concept is more accepted and emphasis is made on family placement of children that are deprived of parental care. UNICEF joins several Russian experts in promoting and supporting families to prevent child abandonment or abuse and to avoid children from being placed in institutions. Institutions should only be considered as an exceptional and temporary measure.
2. From curative to more preventive health care
While Russia’s infant, child and maternal ratios are gradually declining, its life expectancy and fertility rates are also declining. Particularly alarming is that the life expectancy of Russian men at age 30 years has shown no change since World War II, despite significant achievements in modern medicine during this time.
Complementing high-cost curative measures with low-cost high-impact preventive measures is required, with a shift of emphasis towards the latter.
UNICEF supports projects aimed at HIV prevention, prevention of iodine deficiency, promotes healthy lifestyles among young people and breastfeeding through various programmes.
3. From marginalisation, discrimination and stigma to greater tolerance and inclusion
Stigma and lack of tolerance towards children with differences (e.g. children with disabilities or children affected by HIV, ethnic minorities, children of migrants) is very common in Russia. To ensure children's rights and social inclusion, attitudes towards children who are ‘different’ need to be changed.
UNICEF supported inclusive education projects and Peace and Tolerance promotion demonstrate that society can only benefit from integrating children with differences.
For more information, please contact:
John Brittain, UNICEF, Russian Federation
Elena Kharitonova, UNICEF, Russian Federation