The UN Children's Fund is leading a campaign to get thousands of
children displaced by the war in Georgia back to school. UNICEF says
getting children, who are traumatized by war back into a structured
school program, will help them regain their sense of normalcy and well
being. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
Because of the
crisis in Georgia, the start of school this year has been delayed.
School now will begin on September 15. And, communications officer for
the U.N. Children's Fund, Robert Cohen, says UNICEF would like some
35,000 children displaced by the war to be in the classroom when school
"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," he said. "And, we are
concerned, along with the rest of the humanitarian community, that not
all children will be able to return to classes on time."
says there are logistical problems. He notes many of the people who
fled their homes during the fighting between Georgia and Russia are
living in schools and kindergartens. He says alternative facilities
will have to be found either to house these IDPs or to act as temporary
schools for the children.
He says the reluctance on the part of
some parents to send their children to school is another problem that
needs to be overcome.
"Our office and other agencies have heard
concerns on the part of parents that they want to send their children
to school," said Cohen. "They want to send them to schools in safe and
hygienic conditions. We have also been working our water and
sanitation and hygiene teams to disinfect and clean up schools that
were used as IDP shelters."
Cohen says there are problems of
overcrowding in the collective centers and the tent camps in areas
North of the Georgian town of Gori and in Gori itself.
says displaced people are being registered and protection measures are
being put in place to allay these concerns. He says it is important to
ensure that families are in safe and appropriate conditions.
preparation for the start of the school year, UNICEF has distributed
over 100,000 so-called school-in-a-box kits. This includes enough
learning materials and tools for 80,000 children.
UNICEF also has distributed hundreds of recreation kits and has begun
mine awareness projects to educate children about the dangers of
landmines and unexploded ordnances.