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Friday, September 12, 2008

UNICEF in Mongolia

This doesn't leave me indifferent. I really hope these kids have a future, although in the case of the street children there is little hope.

Improving Mongolia's juvenile justice system
The description of the video reads:
In Ulaanbaatar, the bustling capital of Mongolia, five dishevelled children dart across the dusty pavement and pry open a heavy manhole cover. They slip into a narrow hole deep below the city -- for now, this is where these children are living.
No one knows exactly how many street children are living in Mongolia, but estimates in Ulaanbaatar range from as low as 300 to as high as one thousand.
"Poverty is the number one factor sending kids into the streets," says UNICEF Representative Bertrand Desmoulins. "More often than not, they are victims of domestic violence, abandonment, broken and dysfunctional homes. Ultimately, they may come into conflict with the law, victims of a harsh justice system that is ill prepared to cope with this new reality."
UNICEF believes that legal reform which will amend the current system and protect children is an urgent priority. Equally important is ensuring that a wide range of social services are established to help prevent crime. As part of an innovative programme, UNICEF is supporting the local government to help divert juveniles from formal court procedures.

Helping herder children stay in school.
Besides facing the pressures of family and work, rural Mongolian students must often attend classes in less than ideal facilities. Many schools suffer from poor sanitation and overcrowded dormitories, further discouraging children from staying in the classroom.
"Those factors literally push the children outside the school," said UNICEF Representative in Mongolia Bertrand Desmoulins. "It is already very difficult for them to be outside their home and family, and when they literally have to suffer to be able to study, very often the call to go back to the 'ger' [a traditional Mongolian tent] is greater than the call for staying in school."
To help students from rural and nomadic communities, UNICEF is helping improve conditions in schools and dormitories while offering non-formal education programmes to those who cannot attend school. UNICEF also aims to train teachers in better addressing their students' needs, and to equip more schools with safe water and sanitation systems.

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