Caucasus Area

BACK

At the onset of the renewed hostilities in the republic of Chechnya in the autumn of 1999, UNICEF responded to alleviate the suffering of women and children displaced to the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia. After two years the situation is still very difficult. Currently there are about 32,000 IDP (Internally Displaced Person) children between the ages of 7 and 17 – primary and secondary school age – in Ingushetia. About 10,000 of them are attending classes in regular Ingush schools, whose enrolment capacity UNICEF has helped to increase through the provision of furniture, equipment and materials. Another 13,000 are enrolled in NGO-run school facilities, located in tents and wooden buildings, most of which are financed or partially supported by UNICEF. Unfortunately there are still several thousand children who, for various reasons, have “dropped out” of the school system.

In Chechnya, where, according to the local Ministry of Education, there are approximately 200,000 children enrolled in around 400 schools, UNICEF carried out in 2001 a comprehensive assessment of school infrastructures in collaboration with its partner NGOs. This survey shows that up to one-third of school buildings in certain areas are totally destroyed, and many of them are severely damaged. Children are often attending classes in alternative premises, in most cases totally unsuitable and without the most basic equipment. Using the assessments as baseline planning documents, UNICEF, in close coordination with the Chechen Ministry of Education and in collaboration with its implementing partners, has developed a rehabilitation programme for the school system. While the Federal Government still holds responsibility for major reconstruction of buildings, basic rehabilitation has begun in those schools where, with limited efforts, the enrolment capacity and the teaching environment could be improved.

Adapting the recent experience of the Child Friendly Spacesdeveloped in the refugee camps in Albania, UNICEF has began to focus on the improvement of preschool facilities. The Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) are areas, or so-called safe-havens, where children of pre-school and primary school age can spend the full day. Here they can study, play, do sport, receive suitable food, receive basic counselling, and generally live in a normal atmosphere. Small-scale CFS were developed in Grozny for more than 200 vulnerable children and three kindergartens vacated by IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) were rehabilitated in Ingushetia. Within the education system, UNICEF has included mine awareness activities and a psychosocial project aimed at improving the skills of teachers in identifying and dealing with children traumatised by the conflict and consequent displacements.

Contact

UNICEF CAUCASUS AREA OFFICE
UN House
9, Eristavi Street, Floor IV
380079 Tbilisi
Georgia
Telephone: (+995 32) 232.388; 251.130
Fax: (+995 32) 251.236
Email: tbilisi@unicef.org