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Football helps in rehabilitation of vulnerable children and drawing society`s attention to their rights

Children in conflict with law and from families in difficult circumstances opened friendly match between the national teams of Ukraine and Israel

KYIV, 14 August 2013 – A friendly match between the national football teams of Ukraine and Israel continues the joint initiative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) aiming to draw society`s attention to the urgency of children`s protection, in particular of the most vulnerable children. A group of 38 children went out on the football pitch of NSK “Olimpiyskiy” to open the match together with players of the national team. In this group were children who have committed crimes, children with disabilities and children from families in difficult life circumstances. 

UNICEF Ukraine / 2013

“Children are not born criminals. They come into conflict with the law because of the difficult life circumstances they face and a lack of support and comprehension from their families and the community. We believe that there are many ways in which such children may be influenced; sport can play an important role in their rehabilitation. That is why UNICEF unites with FFU and the government of Ukraine to give every child an opportunity to play sports, football in particular. I hope that today`s football match will encourage more children to do sports and develop their physical and spiritual skills.”- said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Ukraine Representative.

The recently presented research on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of children in conflict with the law shows that despite the progress achieved by Ukraine in realising children’s rights throughout the justice system, children still become victims of physical violence; are illegally detained at police stations and forced to confess crimes; and are left without legal support. UNICEF calls on Ukraine to put into place the necessary safeguards to ensure all children who come into contact with the law are treated in a manner that promotes their sense of dignity and worth. Detention of children should be applied only as a measure of last resort, with the aim of supporting the child to assume a constructive role in society.

UNICEF Ukraine / 2013

Ruslana Sirman, UNICEF Ukraine Child Protection Officer: “For me, the most important thing was children`s participation in today`s football match. Every child has an equal right to development, including children who may have broken the law and have come into contact with the police. The children were so excited to go out on to the football pitch with famous football players holding their hands. This is a moment for them to remember forever.”  

There are 8 million children in Ukraine, 165 thousand of whom have a disability, nearly 100 thousand children live or work in the streets and almost 95 thousand live in institutions. In 2012, there were almost 11,000 children in Ukraine who committed crimes and about 850 children in detention facilities. All of these children are born with equal rights to health, education and development. All of them dream about parental care.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protection of children’s rights and interests. The Fund works in more than 190 countries for protection and support of children from early childhood through adolescence. Programs of UNICEF are entirely financed by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Office of the Fund was opened in Ukraine in 1997.

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Yulia Yurova
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Sergiy Prokhorov
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