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UNICEF Executive Director visits Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek,  Kyrgyzstan, 16 October 2008 -  Ann M. Veneman, on the first ever visit by a UNICEF Executive Director to Kyrgyzstan, highlighted the plight of street children who have been exposed to violence, exploitation or abuse.

Veneman visited the Rehabilitation Center for Street Children in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, which provides shelter for approximately 70 children.

“Many of the children at the Center are from homes where domestic violence was a daily event, or where alcoholism and social and economic problems left families unable to cope or to care properly for their children,” said Veneman. “These children have been robbed of their childhood by the people who are meant to love them the most.”

The Executive Director met with Prime Minister Igor Chudinov to discuss  implementation of child protection legislation  and  the recent establishment of the new government department to coordinate children’s issues.  Veneman also discussed child nutrition with the Prime Minister, announcing  $270,000 in additional funds from UNICEF which will help support the development of a national nutrition strategy.  

Over 50 per cent of babies aged 6-24 months are anemic and approximately 13.7 per cent of the nation’s under-fives suffer from stunted growth in the Kyrgyz Republic.  This is mainly due to micronutrient deficiencies.   

“Giving a child a solid nutritional start in life is critical to physical, mental and social development,” said Veneman.

UNICEF works on the ground in more than 150 developing and transitional countries to help children survive and thrive. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF works to advance the Millennium Development Goals by supporting child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS.

About the UNICEF Executive Director:
Ann M. Veneman assumed the leadership of UNICEF on 1 May 2005, becoming the fifth Executive Director to lead UNICEF in its 60-year history. Prior to joining UNICEF, Veneman served as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.
At UNICEF, Veneman directs a global agency of over 10,000 staff and annual total resources of more than $3 billion, funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, businesses, foundations and individuals. Since assuming the position of Executive Director, she has traveled around the world, witnessing firsthand the work of UNICEF, speaking at meetings and conferences, and visiting heads of state or government and other partners.
For further information please contact UNICEF office:

Christopher de Bono, Chief of Media, UNICEF New York, Tel + 212 303-7984, Email CdeBono@unicef.org

Dheepa Pandian, UNICEF, Mobile: 1-917-402-6590, Email: dpandian@unicef.org




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