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UNICEF delivers aid to Tajik children affected by severe winter

UNICEF workers bring blankets etc. to a home in Tajikistan

By Sultanbek Khudaibergenov

Tajikistan, Dushanbe, 3 March – The lengthy harsh winter in Tajikistan and cuts in energy and water supplies has led to hypothermia among newly born babies and children in institutions. 

Khatlon Region, in the southwest of Tajikistan, like other regions in the country, suffered low, sub-zero, temperatures during the past months. As part of the urgent humanitarian response, UNICEF arranged for five lorries to deliver blankets, hygiene kits, generators, jerry cans, soap and kerosene stoves to the severe cold-affected boarding schools in Khatlon Region.

Survive cold winter
The aid was distributed among a total of 24 boarding schools, orphanages, boarding schools for children with special needs, and five district education departments in Khatlon Region. Education departments will distribute the aid among families in need. Though the harshest winter in three decades is over in Tajikistan, the aid will help survive further cold weather spells and severe winters, all of which are predicted for this part of the world in the years to come.

Without power
“We thank you for delivering the relief to our boarding school,” Shahlo Abdusalomova, the head the Kabadiyan district child rights department, said to UNICEF workers. “We thank the National Commission on Child Rights and UNICEF for not overlooking us and our problems,” she said.

The boarding school as well as other institutions in the town of Shaartus were without power for days, said Skahlo Abdusalomova. On one of these days the water in the boarding school’s heating system froze and ruptured the pipes. Now the whole heating system of the boarding school needs to be repaired, moaned Abdusalomova. Almost all the boarding schools in the country had to install wood stoves as sources of heating.
Ration food and lack of clothing
The total number of children in the 24 boarding schools is more than 3,000. Most of them are the children from poor or incomplete families. The striking poverty and the high rate of unemployment makes it difficult for many people to raise their children themselves. It means they send their children boarding schools like the one in Shaartus. The total number of orphans in the boarding schools account for about 10 per cent of the resident children. 

Another problem that boarding schools are facing is the need to ration food and a lack of children’s clothing, said the head of the boarding school in the town of Vakhsh. Though a boarding school provides food for children three times a day, the food is of low quality and not healthy, often consisting of only rice porridge, macaroni or potatoes. Children rarely eat meat, let alone eggs, butter and other substantial and healthy foods. Most of them do not have a change of clothes. This impacts upon the sanitation and personal hygiene of the children. The heads of all the boarding schools expressed the hope that the authorities will improve the situation with supplies of clothes and healthy food for the children.





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