Georgian children living in poverty despite Gov’t reforms

Georgia ranks third highest nation in Europe and Central Asia in terms of deaths of children under the age of five., 04 Mar 2014 - 14:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

The number of children living below the poverty line increased by two percent over the last two years but there were some fields of childcare that are improving in Georgia. 

The current situation facing Georgian children was outlined at the Marriott Hotel today when UNICEF regional director Marie-Pierre Poirier presented the UNICEF 2011-2015 program, jointly executed by UNICEF and the Georgian Government.

Poirier, who was in Georgia to assess the progress of the country’s efforts, said Georgia had implemented many changes within the childcare sector but its overall results were "not encouraging”.

Official data ranked Georgia as the third highest nation in Europe and Central Asia in terms of deaths of children under the age of five.

In addition, two-thirds of Georgian children under 15 do not have relevant knowledge and skills in reading, mathematics and science – the worst result in all of Europe.

Despite this, Poirier positively spoke about the reforms and progress carried out in Georgia in recent years, including the fact children no longer live in large orphanages.

At today’s meeting, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said the Government was doing everything it could to improve the situation in Georgia.

"The Georgian Government is committed to protecting human rights. It is the cornerstone of our domestic and foreign policy,” he said during his opening speech.

"Our current works are proof of this – we are working on the strategy and action plan [and will] collaborate with all relevant parties to ensure the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights.”

Garibashvili also noted various arrangements had been carried out in 2013, which were directed at fulfilling commitments outlined in international agreements.

"The Georgian Government has committed to submit interim reports about its fulfilment of the recommendations, foreseen by the Universal Action Plan. Currently, we are finishing a fourth periodic report, which covers the topic of implementing children’s rights conventions, which will be soon presented to Georgia by the support of UNICEF.”

Garibashvili said child protection issues were extremely important to Georgia and the current Government.

"Children are our present and future. Every child’s right is equally important. Protection of children’s rights is the number one priority for our country. Georgia is actively involved in the childcare system reform, in order to ensure the protection of their rights,” the Prime Minister added.

Today’s meeting was also attended by Georgia’s Minister of Health David Sergeenko, Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Levan Kipiani, Minister of Corrections Sozar Subari and other representatives of the Government, including Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili.

Before his speech ended, Garibashvili thanked UNICEF for their work in Georgia.

"I would like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude towards UNICEF and the work done by them in Georgia. We greatly appreciate this. The 2011-2015 program of UNICEF is an important tool to solve the problems and fulfill the obligations the Government took.”