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UNICEF Regional Director visits displaced women and children in Georgia

TBILISI, 28 August 2008 – UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Maria Calivis finished a two-day visit to Georgia to assess the situation of the most vulnerable women and children affected by the conflict.

“UNICEF is working with the Government and with other partners to meet the most pressing needs of women and children,” said Ms Calivis. “UNICEF offers a wide range of support including psycho-social interventions for children and their mothers who have had distressing experiences. We have already provided day to day living and hygiene kits for families, complimentary food for infants, and water supplies to meet the most basic needs of women and children,” she added.

Ms.Calivis held official meetings with Government representatives and donor agencies to discuss the needs of women and children as well as UNICEF’s response.

She also visited a school for blind children, which like many other schools in Tbilisi now has become a temporary shelter for displaced families. The school houses 169 people including 49 children, many of whom are infants.         

“The first thing that strikes you when you come in, is that this is not the type of environment these women and children should be staying in,” Ms. Calivis said. “The conditions are deplorable and bleak. Children have a universal capacity to laugh and to play but mothers remind you that these children still cry at night and keep on asking when they would go home. I would not want these women and children to stay much longer in this situation.”

“I want to go back to school again,” said little Tamuna to Ms. Calivis when she asked what she wanted most of all.

In the coming weeks UNICEF will support the Government to ensure that children are back to school by mid-September when schooling is planned to start in Georgia.

“Giving children - and their parents - the hope of returning to school provides a sense of normality and hope for the future,” added Ms. Calivis.

Getting children back to school, providing psycho-social support for those in need, mine-risk education, nutrition and hygiene, water and sanitation will be among the major areas of intervention for UNICEF in support of Georgia. 

Ms. Calivis will conduct a further mission to North Ossetia in the Russian Federation this weekend.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Maya Kurtsikidze, Communication Officer, UNICEF Georgia
Tel: (995 32) 23 23 88, 25 11 30, Fax: (995 32) 25 12 36
e-mail: mkurtsikidze@unicef.org, mob: (995 99) 53 30 71




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