UN officials visit Lviv to check progress of the Child and Youth Friendly initiative and preparedness for the new school year
Lviv, Ukraine. 3 September 2021 – UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, and UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, Murat Sahin have visited Lviv to assess how, in times of COVID-19, the city is safeguarding the child rights and local measures needed to keep schools open in a new school year. It is Mr. Sahin’s first visit to Western Ukraine since his appointment in July 2021.
On the first day of the visit, the UN officials had a meeting with the mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, to discuss Lviv’s participation in the Child and Youth Friendly Initiative, including the progress achieved and a vision for the future. Lviv has been one of the first Ukrainian cities that joined the initiative and committed actions for children in 2018. This year Lviv can become one of the first three municipalities in Ukraine to be awarded the official status of Child Friendly City, following independent assessment.
The UNICEF Representative highlighted the role of local communities in protecting children’s rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We rely on support from local authorities that have an important part to play to ensure that schools remain open,” underlined Mr Sahin. “Children and youth around Ukraine cannot risk having another year of disrupted education. Vaccination of teachers and parents, together with protective measures, can help to continue learning and keep schools safe for every child’.
“The pandemic has caused catastrophic disruptions in education. It is therefore very important to ensure safe offline learning in schools for quality education as well as the mental health of children and parents. Before September 1, about a third of educational staff in Ukraine have already been fully vaccinated and another 23% have received the first jab. In Lviv the number of people who were vaccinated with at least the first dose has reached 70% and continues to grow, as local authorities are effectively opening mobile vaccination points in universities, dormitories, supermarkets, also at youth events. But, for example, in Lviv region and other’s the vaccination rate is lower, therefore I encourage local officials and school administrations in other cities to adopt this practice, especially since Ukraine has a sufficient quantity of CovidShield, AstraZeneca-SKBio, CoronaVac, Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate all educational personnel. Moreover, recently, the US government handed over 188,370 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech to Ukraine” said Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine.
The delegation travelled to a rural school to learn about its preparedness for the next academic year and measures to mitigate COVID-related risks to the learning process. They then had a meeting with father Bohdan Prah, who is the rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), UNICEF’s long-standing partner in the area of social and behaviour change in the health sector. The fruitful discussion about faith-based social change initiatives, including joint efforts to increase demand for immunization, was followed by the delegation’s visit to a local vaccination center where they learned about the progress of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in the Lviv region.
On Saturday, the delegation will join the annual youth event MoloDvizh, which will become a platform to discuss key youth policy engagements with national and local partners. Ms Lubrani and Mr Sahin will consult with youth leaders about the priorities of the Ukrainian youth and the role they would like to play in addressing the most pressing issues at the national and local levels. The issues raised by the young people will be included in the UNICEF programme planning for the next five years.
UNICEF will continue working with governments and partners at the local level to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on children and youth, and to ensure successful realization of their rights.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.