For thousands of children across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, violence is a daily reality. More than two thirds of children in the region have experienced violence at some point in their lives. Today, governments, experts and civil society have come together to reaffirm their commitment to place ending violence against children at the centre of their national dialogue and policies.
12 November 2014, MINSK – For thousands of children across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, violence is a daily reality. More than two thirds of children in the region have experienced violence at some point in their lives. Today, governments, experts and civil society have come together to reaffirm their commitment to place ending violence against children at the centre of their national dialogue and policies.
“The protection of the rights and legitimate interests of the child is one of the main tasks of the state and the absolute policy priority for Belarus, which is under the personal supervision of the President of the Republic of Belarus,” said Mr. Anatoly A. Tozik, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister.
He spoke in Minsk at the opening of a two–day regional conference on Strengthening Child Protection Systems to Protect Children from Neglect, Abuse, Exploitation and Violence. The gathering comes a week ahead of the twenty–fifth anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
“In recent years, Belarus has significantly ramped up its efforts to prevent domestic violence and violence against children. An important progress achieved in improvement of national legislation in the field of crime prevention, which now allows not only to timely detect cases of domestic violence, but also to render support for victims of violence by means of sheltering, provision of legal, psychological and medical assistance,” Mr. Tozik added.
Too often violence against children in homes, care and justice institutions, schools and communities remains underreported in the region. Gaps in policies and programmes are numerous. Investment in family support and in building the capacity of social workers and health professionals is still limited.
“Each case of violence against children is one too many. Governments need to invest in awareness–raising campaigns and capacity development to build a culture of zero tolerance for violence against children. Each of us – as policy makers, citizens and parents – need to understand violence and its consequences. We must all be part of the solution. Let us start by breaking the silence,” said Marie–Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Co–organized by UNICEF and the Government of the Republic Belarus, the conference takes stock of governments’ efforts in the region, identifies policy gaps and challenges, shares lessons learned and discusses the complementary role of sectors, ranging from education to health and justice. The important role of civil society in preventing violence will also be discussed.
The new UNICEF National Ambassador in Belarus, Vladimir Pougatch, was present at the opening to lend his voice to galvanize the public to speak out against violence against children: “I am a singer by profession, but today I speak to you as a citizen first and foremost. As an artist, I speak the language of the heart and the language of the people. We all know that children need food and clothes, but above all they need attention, protection and care. Unfortunately, the reality is often very different, and children are often surrounded by people who ignore them. Today I am inviting you to step forward and to speak out for children – as decision makers, experts, concerned citizens and of course, as loving, caring and responsible adults, caregivers and parents.”
The conference is part of UNICEF’s regional commitment to progress the global campaign to end violence against children.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information, please contact:
Kristen Elsby, UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Chief,
Lely Djuhari, UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Communication Specialist,