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UNICEF in North Caucasus moves from humanitarian needs to sustainability

© Andrei Muchnik
Peace Theater performance in Makhachkala, the Republic of Dagestan

UNICEF Regional Director praises rebuilding efforts helping children.

VLADIKAVKAZ, RUSSIA, 21 May, 2008 - UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Maria Calivis, visited the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation where she looked at UNICEF projects in North Ossetia, Chechen Republic, and Dagestan.

Ms Calivis noted the marked change in UNICEF’s programmes since 1999, from humanitarian assistance to support much more oriented to development and sustainability.

“These are not just projects, these are investments for change. I often meet with top government officials, usually to ask or request something but during this visit I have been mostly expressing my gratitude for all the good work being done for the benefit of children,” said Ms Calivis

During her visit, 12-17 May, she held talks with the heads of all the three visited republics: Taymuraz Mamsurov, Ramzan Kadyrov and Mukhu Aliev.

Since 1999, UNICEF's has addressed in the North Caucasus vital needs for children's health, safety and education. It has worked on fostering peace and tolerance. Projects worth more than 55 million US$ have been implemented in the region in partnership with local government, as well as international and local NGOs.

While originally focused on meeting the basic necessities of internally displaced persons in Ingushetia, through the provision of essential services and supplies, today UNICEF is actively involved in six distinct areas: education, health, child rights promotion, mine action, psycho-social recovery, peace and tolerance promotion. These projects are being implemented in five North Caucasus republics: Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria.

© Andrei Muchnik
Inclusive class opening ceremony at school #18 in Grozny, the Chechen Republic

UNICEF is now focusing on ensuring the sustainability of projects. The Family Centre Binonta for social rehabilitation, where children play together with family members under observation of professionals, will soon be run by the Ministry of Labour and Social Development in North Ossetia.

“Sustainability is needed to ensure continuity of certain activities in the future,” said Ms Calivis.

Ms Calivis visited inclusive education projects at schools in all three republics. Inclusive education means “including” the disabled and other vulnerable children into mainstream education. Speaking at one of the schools, she noted that UNICEF’s job “throughout the world in each and every country is to ensure that all children, whatever their background, whatever their physical condition, have the same right to a good education.” In two schools, in North Ossetia and Chechnya, Ms Calivis attended the opening ceremonies of such classes. In Dagestan an inclusive school has been successfully operating for several months.

Another indicator that North Caucasus is moving in the direction of peaceful coexistence is UNICEF’s peace and tolerance projects. Some of them sprang up as a result of previous years’ summer peace camps, which unite children of different ethnic backgrounds in one team. One such project is a peace club, the opening of which Maria Calivis attended in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia. A network of such clubs is planned across the region. A Peace Theatre was also established with UNICEF’s assistance in 2005 in the Chechen Republic and is now touring the republics of North Caucasus with impressive shows of talent promoting peace and tolerance.
Pursuing the idea of sustainable protection of child rights in the region, UNICEF supported the introduction of a new course on the Convention of the Rights of the Child in the curriculum of the Dagestan State Pedagogical University and hopes that it will expand to other regions.

At the same time UNICEF is still addressing humanitarian needs where they are most acute. Maria Calivis visited Maternity Hospital #2 in Grozny and looked at equipment purchased by a European Union/UNICEF project.

“More babies surviving is the best indicator that things are improving,” said Ms Calivis. “I hope this will be the first officially baby-friendly hospital in the Chechen Republic.” She also lauded the fast pace with which the city of Grozny has been rebuilding noting that it completely changed since her visit two years ago: “The same energy that goes into infrastructure and beautifying the city should go into multiplying good projects to build human capital,” she said.


For more information contact UNICEF Communication Consultant Andrei Muchnik Andrei at: or +7 495 937 4812.




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