On World Children’s Day, UNICEF calls for the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable children and families affected by the pandemic
TBILISI, Georgia, 20 November 2020 – On World Children’s Day, UNICEF believes that the most vulnerable families and children should be prioritized in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After almost one year since the pandemic began, putting futures into doubt, the impact of the virus on children and young people is becoming increasingly alarming. Children face multiple threats: apart from the direct consequences of the disease itself, they are threatened by an interruption in essential services, as well as increasing poverty and inequality. Disruptions to healthcare, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, and social and child protection services have been devastating for children and young people worldwide.
"The COVID-19 crisis is a child rights crisis. The costs of the pandemic for children are immediate, and if unaddressed, may persist throughout their lives." - Ghassan Khalil
“The COVID-19 crisis is a child rights crisis. The costs of the pandemic for children are immediate, and if unaddressed, may persist throughout their lives,” said Dr. Ghassan Khalil, the UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Children and young people will be living with the aftermath of this pandemic for years to come, that’s why they must be included in decisions that affect their future,” he continued.
World Children’s Day 2020 in Georgia took place under very different circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the events and activities were organized online, which allowed children and young people to express themselves and to reimagine their futures.
To advocate for the rights of the children from ethnic minority groups, UNICEF Representative Khalil, with other professionals from UNICEF Georgia, celebrated World Children’s Day in Akhalkalaki, a town mostly inhabited by the ethnic minority population in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. UNICEF met with young people from the region and discussed challenges and concerns, as well as ideas on how to solve these problems. The meeting was organized in the main park of the town, where young people displayed their drawings and photographs, which they created as part of the World Children’s Day celebration. The theme of the exhibition was “How I imagine my future – a better world after COVID-19”.
"It is important to learn from the current experience related to the pandemic and to create a better reality for children after COVID-19." - Nikoloz Rachveli
As UNICEF National Ambassador, the famous Georgian conductor and composer Nikoloz Rachveli highlighted the following in his World Children’s Day message:
“It is important to learn from the current experience related to the pandemic and to create a better reality for children after COVID-19. We have to make sure that every child has access to quality education, adequate living conditions, and has equal opportunities. In this process, we have to listen to children and ask them what kind of life they want.”
UNICEF Georgia also joined the global campaigns, ‘Kids Takeovers’ and ‘Turning the World Blue’, that unified core concepts connecting all activities around the world. UNICEF Georgia’s Instagram and Facebook pages were taken over by youngsters from all over the country, posting their photos and videos, and sharing stories and concerns. Some of the topics raised by the children on social media included unequal access to quality education, lack of youth centres in certain regions of the country, challenges for children with disabilities, and the lack of innovative teaching methods.
The day was also marked by the launching of a child-friendly chatbot on the UNICEF Facebook page, which was made to support children and young people in getting trustworthy information in child-friendly language, about the COVID-19 pandemic, prevention measures, and regulations. The chatbot will also educate children about violence and where and how to report cases of violence. It will serve as a tool to divert children and young people to relevant services and helplines, in case of need. The chatbot was created with the participation of young people, answering their questions and concerns, which were gathered via focus groups and surveys conducted by and for children.
As part of World Children’s Day, UNICEF asked supporters to raise their voices in solidarity with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children by helping ‘turn the world blue’. In Georgia, three cities joined in the initiative at Tbilisi’s Iconic landmarks, the TV tower, Batumi’s new stadium, and the State Drama Theatre of Kutaisi, as they were lit blue on 20 November. In 2020, all three cities have joined the UNICEF-led Child-Friendly Cities Initiative pledging that children be at the very heart of the city’s agenda.
World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children, marking the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 20 November 1989.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/