UNICEF Programme in the North Caucasus Activity Report No. 108

Situation Report
Originally published

During the reporting period, UNICEF's Programme in the North Caucasus received from $300,000 from the Government of Germany, earmarked for the Mine Action sector. Consequently, as of 31 May 2006, out of a total requirement for 2006 of $7,470,000, some $3,197,008 (i.e. 42.8%) have been received by UNICEF from the following donors: ECHO, the Netherlands, Sweden, USAID, Germany and the Dutch National Committee for UNICEF. The organisation strongly hopes that additional donors will contribute in the near future, so as to ensure the smooth continuation of its well-established programme.



On 12 May, UNICEF held a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Education of Chechnya to discuss a number of technical issues related to the provision of school textbooks, which UNICEF is going to conduct in the summer period, with financial support from ECHO. In the course of the meeting, the MoE officials stressed the importance of prioritizing the procurement of Chechen language textbooks (including texts on Chechen history and literature), for which federal funds are grossly insufficient.

IDP Schools in Ingushetia

The number of children attending the 12 'parallel' schools for IDPs in Ingushetia - that are managed by UNICEF in partnership with IRC, HWA and CPCD and with financial support from the German National Committee for UNICEF, US/BPRM, Sweden and the Netherlands - did not change noticeably and currently stands at 1,507. The average attendance rate was maintained at 93-95%. On 25 May, the "Final Bell" celebrations, which included playing, singing and dancing, were conducted in all schools, together with the parents' committees and the teachers. Final tests were conducted for the pupils of Grade 1 to 8 and 10, while during the period 29 May-19 June the students of Grade 9 and 11 will attend additional lessons, in preparation for the final graduation exams.

The management of CPCD, IRC and HWA participated in a meeting convened by UNICEF to agree on a common 'exit strategy' to facilitate the process of integration of the remaining IDP school children into the mainstream education system of Ingushetia by 1 September (start of the next academic year). IRC reported their plan to provide psychological support to the children joining the mainstream schools through the opening of special counseling centers. UNICEF added that IDP children would also be provided, according to needs, with full sets of textbooks and stationery, while hosting schools would receive essential furniture and blackboards, so as to strengthen their reception capacity.

Early Childhood Development Programme in Ingushetia

On 30 May, UNICEF and Caritas discussed with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ingushetia, Mr. Geroev, the future of 4 Children Centers - hosting 590 IDP children from Chechnya - that are currently managed by the two organizations, with financial support from ECHO, the German National Committee for UNICEF, US/BPRM, Canada and Sweden. A follow-up meeting has been scheduled for the first half of June, with the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Social Affairs, Mrs. Evloeva, so to clarify the prospects of integration of these kindergartens into the pre-school education system of Ingushetia.

The senior groups of children (aged 5-6) are preparing for their integration into primary school and are mostly focused on the ABC, counting and reading, writing and drawing as well as learning simple verses by heart. The junior groups (aged 3-4) are being involved in exercises and games promoting their cognitive skills.

Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers in Chechnya

Some 1,250 pre-school age children continued their pre-school education process in 25 ECE centers that are located in Grozny, Shali, Argun, Gudermesski, Kurchaloiski, Naurski and Shelkovskoi districts, where - with financial support from ECHO, the German National Committee for UNICEF, US/BPRM, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden - children have access to daily lessons and games, supported by nutritious snacks and medical supervision. The project is managed by UNICEF, in partnership with local NGOs. The curriculum includes exercises for the development of speech (3-5 times a week), mathematics (4 times a week), knowledge of/familiarization with the surrounding world (3 times a week) and physical games (every day).

Vocational training for young people in Chechnya

Some 120 boys and girls continued to attend, with financial support from ECHO, UNICEF-managed carpentry and tailoring vocational classes in two locations of Chechnya. The new workshop in Sadovoe village has been fully equipped with wood-working and sewing machines as well as with a range of other hand tools. At the end of June the participants, upon completion of their 6-month training period, which has combined theoretical learning and practical skills, will face the final qualification exams, with a view to obtaining the course graduation certificates. Another 120 young people will attend the course from 1 July until the end of the year.

Peace and Tolerance Education (PTE)

In the framework of its regional programme, a UNICEF team visited Dagestan to meet the local Child Rights Ombudsperson and participate in a 'Peace and Tolerance Day' organized by UNICEF, in partnership with the NGO "League of Mothers' and Children's Protection of Dagestan". The planning of two summer events - a summer camp for NC children and a "NC Youth Leaders Conference" - was also discussed during UNICEF's meeting with the Deputy Minister of Education of Dagestan.

In addition, a meeting on the development of the 'Encyclopaedia on Traditional Peacemaking of the North Caucasian People' was conducted by UNICEF and the NGO 'Genesis', with the active participation of experts from six republics of the NC. This joint effort of local scientists and UNICEF will result in the production of the above-mentioned Encyclopaedia by the end of 2006.


On 29-31 May 2006, UNICEF, in cooperation with the Humanitarian Center "Strategy" from St. Petersburg, organized and facilitated a three-day training/workshop on child rights for governmental and NGO partners from Chechnya and Ingushetia. The participants, who represented the Chechen Ministry of Justice, The State Youth Committee for Chechnya, the Human Rights Ombudsman's office as well as the NGOs "Memorial", "Nina" and "Chechen Rescue Committee", were thus provided with an opportunity to discuss how they could and should interact to ensure a better protection of children in the region. Lessons learned as well as best experiences and practices on the social protection system for children of Persia province was shared by Tatiana Carolina, the Human Rights Ombudsman for Perm and a former deputy governor of Perm sky province. Ideas for future joint projects were also discussed. The second module of the training has been preliminary scheduled for October 2006.

Following a series of meetings with the Human Rights Ombudspersons for Chechnya and Ingushetia, which were aimed at obtaining detailed information on the most relevant child rights issues in the region, UNICEF also held a meeting with Antiwar Mamutaeva, the Child Rights Ombudsperson for Dagestan. The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss areas of common concern for children and ideas for future cooperation.

Mine Risk Education (MRE)

During the reporting period, the UNICEF Child Protection/Mine Action team continued to oversee its ongoing programme through monitoring missions to Chechnya. In particular, visits were conducted to the Republican Clinical Hospital in Grozny, to the vocational training project implemented by the Society for the Disabled as well as to a leisure centre for children located in school n. 44 in Grozny.

Despite the fact that the number of mine/UXO-related casualties in Chechnya has been significantly decreasing over the last three years, the total number of incidents recorded thus far in 2006 (January-May) has remained at the same level recorded in 2005. On the other hand, the number of victims killed has been significantly lower (2 in 2006 vs. 8 in 2005). A thorough analysis of the data indicated that most of the new incidents are due to the socio-economic needs of the population living in the mine/UXO-affected areas.

In the framework of the UNICEF-supported activities that are aimed at decreasing the impact of the mine/UXO threat on the lives of civilians in Chechnya, UNICEF - with financial support from USAID - established 8 new leisure centers for children living in Vinogradnoe, Oktyabrskoe, Makhketie, Gvardeiskoe, Mairtup and Gudermes . These centers, equipped with music instruments, computers, TV, Karaoke and different table games, provide a safe playing environment for children.

UNICEF continued to further support, through its local implementing partners, its MRE programme for the general population of Chechnya. MRE presentations were delivered by Voice of the Mountains (UNICEF's key NGO partner) to schoolchildren living in Gudermesskiy, Achkhoy-Martanovskiy, Urus-Martanovskiy, Shalinskiy and Grozny districts. A competition for the best drawings made by schoolchildren on the theme "A mine/UXO-safe Chechnya" has been organised by VoM, with the participation of children from the above-mentioned schools. Twenty drawings were selected and displayed during the celebrations for the International Children's Day in Achkhoy-Martan (1 June); in addition, the drawings will also be used for the forthcoming production by UNICEF, with support from ECHO, of new MRE materials.

Assistance to Children with Disabilities

Within the framework of UNICEF's assistance programme for children with disabilities (including mine/UXO survivors), some 15 children were provided with treatment at the physiotherapy ward of the Republican Clinical Hospital in Grozny. The same group of children (with their primary caregivers) also received psychosocial support at the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center in Grozny, which is run by UNICEF through its local implementing partner Let's Save the Generation. Both programmes are implemented with financial support from the German Government. A total number of 29 children are currently being treated at the Rehabilitation Center A variety of therapies - including group and individual counseling, drama and music therapies, labour and play therapies - are being applied and contribute to the psycho-physical improvement of the children's condition. Meanwhile, vocational training in tailoring and computer skills has been further supported by UNICEF for 60 children living in Grozny, Achkhoy-Martan and Vedeno, with financial support from USAID.


Avian/Human Influenza(AI/HI)

From 8-21 May, UNICEF deployed to the North Caucasus an international consultant on programme communication, with the aim of providing technical communication support, with regard to the HI (Human Influenza) pandemic threat, to the Health Ministries of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Northern Ossetia. A series of meetings and training events were conducted and a set of recommendations provided to the relevant bodies, with a view to supporting the development of a more strategic approach to effective information/communication campaigns for AI/HI prevention in the region.

Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI)

Within its EPI programme, which is mainly funded by USAID and aims at increasing the coverage and quality of the immunization services for children in Chechnya and Ingushetia, UNICEF distributed 88,000 disposable syringes to 14 health care facilities in Ingushetia and 205,000 syringes to 17 hospitals in Chechnya. In parallel, UNICEF continued to strengthen the capacity of primary health care level facilities (30 in Chechnya and 10 in Ingushetia) through the distribution of essential medical equipment, including tonometers, ophthalmoscopes, stethoscopes, scales for infants/ adults and auxanometers. Within the same project, UNICEF re-printed and distributed to Chechen and Ingush health professionals 500 copies of 7 types of EPI methodological booklets/manuals, including on EPI planning and management, immunization techniques as well as epidemiological surveillance standards for vaccine preventable diseases.

Mother Empowerment Project (MEP)

UNICEF continued the implementation of its MEP, which is conducted in cooperation with the Ministries of Health of Chechnya as well as Ingushetia and is financially supported by US/BPRM and the Netherlands. The project is aimed at raising mothers' awareness on various topics related to breastfeeding, immunization and the early recognition of common child illnesses. Many childhood illnesses and deaths, in fact, can be averted if parents are provided with the right information and skills to care for their children, especially in remote villages, where there is a total lack of medical specialists and health facilities. During the reporting period, UNICEF, through its training sessions, targeted some 392 resident and IDP pregnant women, mothers and other primary child care providers living in Malgobesky district of Ingushetia. The project has been carried out by specialists (pediatricians and gynecologists) from the Republican Centre for Disease Prevention, in the premises of the Central District Hospital. In parallel, UNICEF distributed brochures on breastfeeding to every pregnant women and mother attending the sessions. In Chechnya, during the reporting period, UNICEF's partner (the Republican Children's Policlinic in Grozny) reached 236 mothers.

Young People's Health, Development (YPHD) and Participation - HIV/AIDS Prevention

In the framework of its YPHD project, which is mainly funded by USAID, UNICEF continued its cooperation with the Chechen and Ingush Republican Ministries of Health, the Achkhoi-Martan District Hospital, the Association of Women Doctors of Chechnya and the Ingush Republican Policlinic. UNICEF and its partners continued to strengthen the work of the 3 existing Youth Friendly Clinics (2 in Chechnya and 1 in Ingushetia) that are aimed at providing access to high quality health services for young people, including on reproductive health, family planning and HIV prevention. Within the same project, UNICEF continued to work on strengthening young people's knowledge on safe reproductive health practices and HIV/AIDS prevention, through communication and social mobilization activities as well as information campaigns among young people and teenagers. Within the framework of this activity, for example, 18 HIV/AIDS awareness-raising trainings were conducted for 450 children in schools in rural districts in Chechnya and in two schools in Grozny.

In parallel, UNICEF continued to provide support to two Centres of Psychosocial Support for people living with HIV/AIDS (established since last year, in cooperation with the Ingush and Chechen State HIV/AIDS Centres). Counseling and support were provided to 18 HIV-positive individuals and their family members. In Chechnya, 25 HIV-positive individuals and 19 family members applied for assistance during the reporting period.


Water Purification and Distribution in Grozny

The project continued to be implemented by UNICEF, through the Polish Humanitarian Organization (PHO) and with financial support from ECHO. Safe drinking water continued to be distributed to hospitals, schools, kindergartens and private users in Grozny, for a total of 117,000 beneficiaries. The average water production and distribution capacity reached 750 cubic metres per day. Water was delivered, on a four-route-per-day system and through 20 trucks, to 270 distribution points located in four districts of Grozny, including 32 places in medical facilities, 64 places in educational institutions, 7 TACs, and 167 points in residential area of the city. In addition, the surplus purified water, was carried to additional beneficiaries by two trucks that have been provided and maintained by EMERCOM.

Meanwhile, UNICEF, PHO and the local water provider (Grozvodokanal) further developed their discussions on future steps for the planned progressive hand-over to the latter, by end-2006, of the management of the water purification and distribution project. UNICEF also continued to strengthen the operational capacity of Grozvodokanal, including through the procurement of IT equipment, office furniture, office supplies and one vehicle (UAZ-type).


Psychosocial assistance to conflict-affected children of Chechnya

The third training on school counselling for 23 selected school psychologists from Chechnya was conducted by UNICEF from 12-15 May 2006, with support from USAID, through the specialized centre 'Harmony' in St. Petersburg. The main objective of this training was to provide the participants with the opportunity to learn from other programmes' experiences, through visiting schools, discussing professional problems with the colleagues from St. Petersburg, and also participate in a conference (during which concrete ideas on providing psychological assistance in places of conflict were discussed).

In May, UNICEF completed the gathering of data related to its 'Psychosocial Baseline Study - Stage 2', with support by USAID as well as US/BPRM and in partnership with NAN, the Russian Charity Foundation. The study is aimed at assessing the psychosocial state of children who received psychological trauma in Chechnya, as well as at providing an analysis of the children's environment within school, family and community. Some 4,500 questionnaires were developed and distributed by NAN to affected children, their school directors, neighbors and classmates in different regions of Chechnya. The results of the study will be available in June.