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44% of children

In 12 of 29 CEECIS countries are at risk of not developing to their potential due to poverty, stunting or both.

Uzbekistan joins the call to action to end placing children under three in institutions

Print version
21 November 2012
Press release
2 2 Photos

SOFIA, 21 November 2012, and Tashkent, 23 November 2012 — Uzbekistan has joined a growing movement that united countires of Eastern Europe and Central Asia to support vulnerable families and end placing children under three in institutions.

Government delegations from 20 countries, including Uzbekistan, attended a two-day regional conference that took place under the patronage of the President Rosen Plevneliev, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy in collaboration with UNICEF.

The delegation of Uzbekistan included representatives from OliyMajlis (Parliament), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Finance.

The aim was to share experiences and promote mutual learning so governments can create and implement policies giving stronger support to families. Countries can work together to prevent the placement of children, particularly the youngest, into institutions.

At least 1.3 million children in the region are separated from their families often because of poverty or their families` inability to cope due to stressful circumstances, reveals the study of Children under the age of three in formal care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a rights-based regional situation analysis. It waslaunched at the regional ministerial conference in Bulgaria.

Out of the 1.3 million, an estimated 31,000 placed in institutions are under the age of three. They are at risk of severe developmental delays when left in such form of care at this very early phase.

The conference called the governments of 22 countries to provide greater support to vulnerable families so that children, who need the support most, could grow and develop in their own families. At present, Romania, Serbia and Croatia are the only three countries in the region which have approved laws to prevent infants being sent into institutions. More countries are expected to do so following this conference.

In his opening speech, President Rosen Plevneliev said: «An investment in early childhood development is one which is well spent. The return on investment is especially big when we are talking about children at risk. Financial and social expenses in responding to these challenges later on will be much bigger.»

«When we ensure the full development of every child, we are also developing the capacity of the nation to become prosperous society," he added.

«The Convention of the Rights of the Child recognizes how important it is to provide support to families so that children can grow up in a family environment. The family can be the most nurturing place for a child," said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

«Thanks to the Republic of Bulgaria, we are able to share experiences here on how to move forward," she added. «Our region has challenges but also useful knowledge on how to overcome them. We aim to create a network of solidarity wh ere countries work together to give children the best start in life.»

UNICEF Regional Child Protection Advisor Jean Claude Legrand expressed concern that in some countries children under the age of three are up to three times more likely to be placed in institutions than older children. Some 30 per cent of children living in institutional care have disabilities — in one country, the figure was as high as 60 percent. They rank among the most stigmatized of all children. That is why social protection policies need to focus on the youngest and most vulnerable children.

Speaking at the conference, the delegation of Uzbekistanstatedthat «inaccordance withthe international obligations and recognizing that early childhood- the periodfrom 0to three years — is the most important phasein life,the Republicof Uzbekistanwill also continue to implementthe state policy onprotecting child rights,supportingand strengthening families,improving the system ofprotection of motherhoodand childhood, and willtake allnecessary and effective measures, by combining the complementarycapabilities of the stateand civil society,including non-governmentaland civil society organizations, mass media, to ensurethe best interests andwellbeing of the child.»

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