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UN Helping Georgia’s Children Return To School

UN Organizes Campaign To Help Georgia’s Children Return To School

New York, Sep 5 2008 4:11PM

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is organizing a campaign to ensure that all children in Georgia can start the new school year this month, following the recent conflict in the Caucasus country.

“We are concerned along with the rest of the humanitarian community that not all children will be able to return to classes on time,” UNICEF’s Robert Cohen told reporters in Geneva today.

That is why the agency is teaming up with the Government and other partners to launch a back-to-school campaign, ahead of the start of the new school year, set to begin on 15 September.

Mr. Cohen said that given the recent conflict, the big challenge is to ensure that the children among the internally displaced persons (IDPs) can return to school.

More than 158,000 people were displaced during the conflict that began in Georgia on 8 August – about 128,000 within Georgia and some 30,000 who fled to Russia.

“UNICEF views the return to school in September as a golden opportunity to help children begin to recover from the trauma of war and restore their hope in the future,” said Mr. Cohen.

Noting that many of the schools and kindergartens had been occupied by IDPs, he said that ensuring that the schools are ready and that the IDPs can be sheltered in appropriate conditions is a major problem.

The agency has organized child-friendly spaces and psycho-social activities, including recreation, informal learning and sports for children in the shelters.

It has also distributed over 1,000 “school in a box” kits that will provide learning materials for some 80,000 children, 700 recreation kits for 63,000 children, and materials to raise awareness of the risk of mines and unexploded ordnance.

ends

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