UNICEF calls for efforts to make Georgian cities safer for children after deadly incident

UNICEF Georgia said that the recent tragedy had drawn attention to the safety norms and standards in public spaces across the country, where children’s security and safety might be jeopardised. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge

Agenda.ge, 31 Oct 2022 - 14:27, Tbilisi,Georgia

UNICEF Georgia on Monday called on national and local authorities in Georgia to work with professionals, civil and private sector representatives to make cities fit and safe for children, in response to the deadly electrocution incident in Tbilisi’s Vake Park earlier this month that killed one minor and left two others injured. 

The organisation said the tragedy had drawn attention to safety norms and standards in public spaces in Tbilisi as well as in other cities and towns of the country “where children’s security and safety might be jeopardised”. 

Relevant lessons should be drawn from this tragic accident by scrutinising safety measures in existing public spaces and building new such spaces using child-responsive urban planning. Cities in Georgia should be fit for children, so no such tragedies happen again”,  Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF representative in Georgia, said. 

Citing the right to play as “fundamental” for children’s development, the organisation said planning urban settings in a child-responsive manner “begins with the understanding of how an urban setting can support and enhance the development of children”. 

"Cities in Georgia should be fit for children, so no such tragedies happen again", said Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. UNICEF Georgia 

Child-responsive urban planning focuses on increasing community safety through environmental planning, design, and infrastructure. It envisages improvements in lighting, landscape, visibility, natural access and surveillance, and other factors that discourage crime and encourage public use of space, as well as ensuring safe routes to and from school”, the organisation noted. 

Three minors were electrocuted in the newly renovated fountain in the popular park after one of them attempted to retrieve a ball that had fallen into the water on October 13. A 13-year-old girl was taken out of the water before being pronounced dead from injuries sustained in the incident, with the two other minors undergoing treatment for injuries.

Nine individuals, including a Tbilisi city hall official, were arrested for the incident, while the head of the Tbilisi city hall environmental protection service resigned citing “moral responsibility”. In its preliminary comments the Georgian interior ministry said an exposed electric wire during the recent renovation work on the fountain had caused the fatal consequence.