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Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

Moscow hosts Cities for Children conference and signs on to become child-friendly

UNICEF Image: Russian Federation, child-friendly
© UNICEF Russian Federation/2007/Svirid
Performers at the international Cities for Children conference in Moscow, Russian Federation.

By Elizabeth Kiem

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, 7 September 2007 – Seventy per cent of all Russian children live in urban areas. An eighth of them – some 1.6 million children – live in the capital, Moscow, which this week hosted a two-day global conference on urban child protection.

The Cities for Children conference explored ways that municipal authorities can develop child-friendly cities, where young people are guaranteed education, civic opportunity and social inclusion.

UNICEF’s Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Maria Calivis, opened the conference along with the Mayor of Moscow, Yurii Luzhkov. Ms. Calivis congratulated the city, which is partnering with UNICEF to become more child-friendly over the next decade.

In doing so, Moscow joins other European capitals such as Paris, London and Rome that are taking measures to protect and enhance the lives of their youngest residents.

Moscow’s ‘Year of the Child’

“The first steps have already been made with the city’s significant investment this year in children’s medical services,” said Ms. Calivis. She went on to cite Moscow’s support for larger families and the disabled, as well as its efforts to disseminate information on child rights and encourage children’s participation in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

UNICEF Image: Russian Federation, child-friendly
© UNICEF Russian Federation/2007/Svirid
UNICEF Regional Director Maria Calivis and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov at the opening ceremony of the Cities for Children conference, attended by 600 delegates from Russia and abroad.

Mayor Luzhkov has declared 2007 to be Moscow’s ‘Year of the Child’ and has committed $1.6 billion (or $1,000 per child) towards improving youth services. In cooperation with UNICEF, the city will also launch a 10-year strategic plan to ensure the rights and improve the lives of its children.

Moscow authorities estimate that 2,000 children live on the city’s streets, while approximately 5,000 others are in institutional care. Thousands are abandoned at birth to be cared for in wards that lack the equipment and capacity to address their developmental needs.

The world through children’s eyes

Over 600 people, including representatives from 26 different countries and 71 Russian regions, attended the Cities for Children conference.

Prince Michael of Kent, a member of the British royal family who is active in charitable causes, addressed the plenary session together with UNICEF Representative in Russia Carel de Rooy. President Vladimir Putin sent a greeting to the conference by video.

Children, of course, were also in attendance – as delegates and performers at the festive opening ceremony.

Participants also had the chance to view an exhibit, ‘Moscow through the Eyes of Children’, which showed the results of a recent UNICEF-supported photography workshop that brought disabled and non-disabled children together to collaborate on a creative vision of their world.




3 September 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the international Cities for Children conference held in Moscow.
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