Kazakhstan, European Union and UNICEF works jointly on successful reintegration of families and children returned from conflict zones

Within the joint program, 130 Kazakhstani experts have been trained to provide social and psychological assistance to families and children from conflict zones

08 June 2022
Children in migration 2021 in Shymkent
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Roman_Gussak

Oral, June 9, 2022 – Today, representatives of the European Union, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Country Office in Kazakhstan, UN Women Kazakhstan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Committee for Protection of Child Rights gathered in Oral to discuss the outcomes of their joint program.

The program is funded by the European Union and aims to support women, children, and their families, returned from the conflict zones, successfully reintegrate them into communities, and ensure their protection and access to social services and education.

As a result of the program, 130 Kazakhstani experts studied during the 10-day course the main legal issues and ethical principles relating to children and families returned from conflict zone. Practicing counselors, psychologists, social workers, members of guardianship authorities, schools and academicians learned the concept of "stigma", anti-discrimination practices and language. At the training they discussed how to improve efficiency of reintegration programs in local communities and develop literacy and citizenship. The course participants were able to practice their communication skills, master the case management system, and methods of working with post-traumatic syndrome. 

The trainings were developed following the needs evaluation conducted in March 2022 among 89 specialists who work with children returned from conflict zones.

Within the joint program the international experts and NGOs have created a new approach to reintegration “Storytelling between Generations”. It is focused on developing citizenship and self-identity in children returned from conflict zones. Approbation of the approach and progress review are going to take place in several regions of the country before the end of this year. 

"Children returned from conflict zones had the hardest experience that no child in the world should face. Serious violations of child rights and interests lead to disastrous effects for their physical and mental health. Kazakhstan is one of the few countries that have repatriated the majority of its citizens from both Syria and Iraq. There were 520 children out of them. Some of the repatriated children had never been to Kazakhstan, and they needed to learn one more language, and met with relatives who would take care of them for the first time. Such children need social services help and support. We are pleased that the joint program gives a chance to increase the capacity of professionals working with these children and support their reintegration through interaction with local communities. The children have returned home and must be protected”, - said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan. 

As part of the joint program, a national resource center was opened at the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University for training and developing skills of specialists working with children. Building communication and joint work with oblast universities in other regions of Kazakhstan is one of the program tasks. 

“Upon the children and families’ return to Kazakhstan, it is important to develop a cross-sectoral approach with state bodies and rehabilitation centres practitioners, but the integration process is slow and requires a careful approach to each child. Sharing experience with international organisations helps document and improve practices at the local level”, - said Talgat Kaliev, Ambassador-at-Large and Special Representative of the President of Kazakhstan for Afghanistan. 

After the discussion of the joint programme results UNICEF representatives met with the representatives of the civil society who help returned from conflict zones women and children reintegrate into the Kazakh society.

“It is extremely important to provide the necessary conditions for the integration and reintegration of children and families returned from conflict zones. Kazakhstan is considered to be an example for other countries along here. The EU is pleased to cooperate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the RK, UNICEF, UN Women, Committee for Protection of Child Rights, and with local executive bodies and non-governmental organisations to provide technical assistance at the central and local levels”, - noted Mr. Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation.

“More than 3 years have already passed since the return of children. During this time the Committee for Protection of Child Rights of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with local executive bodies, has done a lot of work to restore the rights of minors. In general, we see that the methods of work applied by Kazakhstan have brought results, which primarily affected the children themselves, namely, already now 51% of children have excellent and good grades at schools. 30% of children became participants and winners of various creative com-petitions and contests. We sincerely believe that every child will become a good citizen of the country. This cannot but rejoice us, because the success of a child in any endeavour reflects the effectiveness of successful rehabilitation and socialisation of children”, - added Dulat Zhekebayev, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Protection of Child Rights of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

“Our work is focused on reintegration of women returnees for better and peaceful life. UN Women also supports the Government and other partners in development of gender-sensitive and evidence-based policies, and program activities to ensure that women's voices count in the development of such recovery measures", - said Maria Dotsenko, UN Women Representative to Kazakhstan.

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