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Children still grow up separated from their families in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
A Fair Chance for Every Child: UNICEF Supports International Conference on Social Inclusion
UNICEF believes that every child has the right to health, education and protection, and every society has a responsibility to provide opportunities to children, especially the most vulnerable – children with disabilities, children without parental care and children in contact with the law.
On 31 January 2017, a two-day International Conference entitled “Social Inclusion: New Milestones in Socialization of Children” starts in Tashkent. The conference organized by the “Sen Yolgiz Emassan” (“You are Not Alone”) Foundation and the Republican Center for Social Adaptation of Children is supported by the Ministries of Health; Public Education; Higher and Secondary Special Education, as well as Kamolot National Youth Movement, Tashkent City Municipality and UNICEF in Uzbekistan.
The event brings together over 200 participants including high level Government officials, UNICEF, UNESCO and European Union Delegation, national and international experts with a purpose of identifying ways to improve social inclusion of disadvantaged children in the country. The participants review best international practices, innovative approaches and lessons learned, and brainstorm on the ways they could be applied in Uzbekistan.
“It is evident that greater social inclusion and a well-designed social protection system are not only a moral imperative, they are also essential for taking Uzbekistan to the next level of development. UNICEF stands ready to support the Government and its partners in this agenda,” says Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan, as he addresses the participants during the conference opening.
According to official data, there are thousands of ‘children with severe intellectual or physical disabilities’, who do not have access to kindergartens or schools. It is important to reach out to families to provide them with necessary skills and financial support.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to grow up in a family environment. Only a small percentage of children who are placed in residential institutions in the country do not have parents. The majority of these children are in institutions due to socio-economic difficulties faced by their families, or because they are born with a disability.
The conference serves as a platform to discuss amendments required in the national law to prevent placement of children in institutions, as well as the social support mechanisms needed to support the most disadvantaged families.
Another priority area discussed at the forum is juvenile justice. The way children are being treated by the justice system significantly impacts their trust in the rule of law.
“In dealing with child offenders, traditional objectives of criminal justice such as repression and retribution must give large way to rehabilitation and restorative justice objectives. This will help avoid stigmatization and the negative effect of justice proceedings on children and is in the interest of public safety due to lower reoffending rates and greater cost-effectiveness,” says Sascha Graumann.
The conference will contribute to the strategy of actions for national development, and provide a fair chance to the disadvantaged children in Uzbekistan.