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Press release

Healing Beslan's wounds

Education to promote peace and tolerance in the aftermath of Beslan

GENEVA, 16 November, 2004. UNICEF has announced plans for a new programme to promote peace and tolerance across the troubled North Caucasus. Coming in the wake of the Beslan tragedy in September, the new programme will promote much-needed dialogue between children from different ethnic groups and religions.

“It is time to look to the future and try to heal age-old wounds,” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative in the Russian Federation. “This part of the world has suffered from more than a decade of violence and fear as unresolved disputes and divisions have re-emerged. In the aftermath of Beslan, we fear that things will get worse unless we work with children and young people to build tolerance and understanding.”

The new programme, to be launched in January 2005, will bring together key players from government, NGOs, schools and communities from every republic in the North Caucasus to create a common syllabus for peace and tolerance education. The aim is to introduce the syllabus into schools across the region over the next two years.

“It seems fitting, after the tragic events in Beslan, that schools should be at the heart of efforts to build peace and reconciliation” said Carel de Rooy.

The programme will begin with a study tour to existing peace education programmes supported by UNICEF, and will include art competitions, sports contests, youth discussions, exchange visits and summer camps for children and young people from different ethnic groups and religions.

The programme is scheduled to run – initially – from January to December 2005, and will require US$ 500,000.

UNICEF provided medical supplies to the survivors within hours of the September siege at School Number One in Beslan. It has provided education materials for the remaining schools in the town to make them more welcoming for children. UNICEF is also supporting psychological counseling for the survivors, their families and other affected children in Beslan.  

For further information:

Angela Hawke, UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS and Baltics:
Tel: (+4122) 909 5433. Mobile: (+4179) 601 9917. E-mail: ahawke@unicef.org




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