Kazakhstan, the European Union and UNICEF will continue cooperating on reintegrating and supporting returnee children

At the coordination meeting, the parties discussed continued measures to support returnee children and the steps needed to ensure the children’s access to education, protection, and social support.

23 February 2024
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ASTANA, 23 February 2024 - Today, representatives of the European Union (EU), UNICEF, and the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a coordination meeting to discuss the further reintegration of returnee children[1] and their families.

The meeting participants addressed strengthening Kazakhstan’s child protection and social support systems to further reintegrate children who have spent a portion of their lives in conflict zones. The parties also discussed joint activities to assist local executive bodies and schools as they work to help socialize and educate returnee children.

Further, the participants debated methods for improving parental and caregiver knowledge and skills in supporting their children’s psychological well-being, health and development.

First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kairat Umarov noted that "significant progress has been made in the gradual reintegration of returnee children into society. At the same time, our children still need psychological and social support, therefore work with the younger generation in this direction remains relevant and important."

According to Ambassador-at-Large from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Talgat Kaliyev , today's meeting highlighted the importance of solidarity in implementing programmes for the reintegration of returnee children. The joint efforts of UNICEF, the EU, and Kazakhstan are key to these children’s successful adaptation to new conditions, with every step aimed at ensuring their well-being and future”.

Experts from all parties emphasized the importance of improving educators and child protection specialists’ competencies in providing services tailored to the individual needs of returnee children as well as monitoring the effectiveness of socialization programs and services at the local level.

“We have been supporting an important programme to reintegrate returnee children in Kazakhstan for several years now. The cooperation of UNICEF, the European Union, and the Kazakhstani authorities aims to create conditions for the children’s successful social adaptation, and we are pleased to see positive results,” said Kestutis Jankauskas, the EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan.

 “Our common goal is to ensure that all returnee children continue to receive the necessary support to recover from their experiences as well as the opportunity to learn, develop, and adapt to Kazakhstani culture and tradition,” said Laetitia Bazzi-Vale, acting UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

The parties’ cooperation also provides specialists working with returnee children the opportunity to share their experiences.

Beyond aiding returnee children, the parties discussed strengthening Kazakhstan’s child protection system to better reach all vulnerable children with high-quality social services. UNICEF and its partners are committed to continuing this work.

Kazakhstan is among the first countries to repatriate its citizens from conflict zones in Iraq and Syria. So far, Kazakhstan effectuated the return of 526 children, providing them with comprehensive government support to adapt to life in Kazakhstan.

Background information:

The EU-funded programme ‘EU-UN Support to the States in Central Asia for their Citizens Returned from Conflict Zones, Primarily Syria and Iraq’ aims to support returnee women, children and families by encouraging their successful reintegration into local communities and ensuring they receive protection, access to social services, and education. In 2023, Kazakhstan began implementing the second phase of this programme.  

During the programme’s first phase, Kazakhstan established a National Resource Center with UNICEF support to train and equip specialists working with returned children and provide psychosocial services and professional assistance to returnees.

[1] Children returned from Conflict Zones, Primarily Syria and Iraq

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The European Union is an economic and political union between 27 European countries. The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. It plays a leading role in international efforts to promote sustainable social development, the environment, and the economy for the benefit of everyone. The EU and its constituent countries are the world's leading humanitarian aid donors. Every year, the European Union provides help to millions of victims of conflicts and disasters. For more information on the EU activities in Kazakhstan please visit the website. Follow the EU in Kazakhstan on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram LinkedIn.

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