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4th Child Protection Forum for Central Asia ends in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE, 1-3 August 2013 - For the very first time, five governments from Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) met for 3 days in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to bring visibility to an invisible group in society, children with disabilities.

Concluding statements of the 4th Child Protection Forum for Central Asia, Ms. Rosangela Berman-Bieler (right), UNICEF Senior Adviser on Children with Disabilities, Rights and Civic Engagement, Ms. Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Chairperson of Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Mr. Zarif Alisoda, Ombudsmen, Republic of Tajikistan, Ms. Ruqia Kurbonova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan and Chairperson of Commission on Child Rights of the Republic of Tajikistan, Ms. Sabohat Hakimzoda, Chairperson of Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities of the Republic of Tajikistan. - UNICEF Tajikistan / A. Zohidov / 2013

The forum was hosted by Tajikistan, a mountainous country of about 8 million inhabitants, bordering Afghanistan, with support from UNICEF.  It brought together more than 120 participants from Central Asia including parliamentarians, representatives from parents associations of children with disabilities and associations of people with disabilities, representatives from ministries of health, education as well as labour and social protection. Experts from around the world and from relevant UN Committees as well as officials from Serbia, Georgia and Armenia shared their experiences in order to support Central Asian countries to further develop their inclusion plans. 

The organisation of the Forum itself has been both a challenge and a learning experience that the authorities of Tajikistan have addressed with a sense of innovation. Ramps, readings materials in braille and sign language translators were provided to ensure the full participation of stakeholders. 

Sabohat Khakimzoda, the chairperson of the coalition of association of parents of children with disabilities of Tajikistan said: “I would not have changed my child with severe disability for hundred healthy children. She brought joy and purpose to our lives. We ask our governments to ratify and implement the CRPD and support us and our children to enjoy their rights as all other children.”

Group photo at the end of the three-day conference in Dushanbe - UNICEF Tajikistan / A. Zohidov / 2013

The Director of Centre for Children with Autism in Tajikistan Lola Nasriddinova added: “We do not need pity from others. Our children do not need charity or medical treatment. We need acknowledgment of the strengths and abilities of our children, and immediate removal of the barriers they are facing in being included in schools, in recreation, in regular life. And this is what our children also want.”

Participating countries acknowledged that economic and social challenges should not delay the full inclusion of children with disabilities in society. They committed to reinforce systems and policies for early identification and rehabilitation, establish community based support services for families of children with disabilities and to fight stigma and discrimination that are still the main obstacles for realising the rights of all children including children with disabilities.

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