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Georgia celebrates International Children’s day

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, June 2
Georgia celebrated International Children's Day on June 1. In this regard, PM Irakli Gharibashvili initiated doubling assistance to socially vulnerable children from July 1 to GEL100 instead of existing GEL50. The number of children receiving assistance will also increase, the head of the government said in his address, reiterating that the poverty among children remains a challenge in Georgia, especially in pandemic conditions.

In addition, instead of the existing 100,000 social points, children living in families with less than 120,000 points will receive GEL100 assistance. This decision will affect more than 215 000 children. GEL145 million will be allocated annually from the budget to finance this program.

Various entertainment events for children were held in Mziuri Park, Tbilisi, jointly organized by the Culture, Education, Sports and Youth Affairs Municipal Service of the Tbilisi City Hall and the Vake District Board.

"A concert of children's studios, puppet theater performances for children and various entertaining activities presented by fairy tale characters will be presented on the stage. During the day the events will be held in open space. Within the World Book Capital, there will be an exhibition-sale of children's literature and handicrafts, a storyteller's corner and various activities,” the Tbilisi City Hall said, inviting children at the event.

Georgian officials, including Minister of Education Mikheil Chkhenkeli and Speaker of the Parliament Kakha Kuchava congratulated children with the day.

“Children are our primary concern. It is the responsibility of each of us to create a healthy and safe environment for their development, to give them a better future. Children should have equal opportunities for education and healthy living. Raised in a safe and peaceful environment, the educated generation is the best investment in building a better society and the proper development of the country," Chkenkeli said, adding that pandemic posed challenges on educational system, however the ministry has managed to ensure providing children with education, for which he especially thanked teachers.

Georgian Public Defender and UNICEF Georgia also congratulated the youth with the day and stated that the coronavirus pandemic has further aggravated the situation of children’s rights in Georgia. Ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria has stated that the risks of child abuse, poverty, violations of the rights to healthcare and education have increased amid the pandemic.

Against the background of the above-mentioned celebrations, children's rights activists have used the opportunity to draw attention to the Ninotsminda Children’s Boarding School and held a protest in front of the government administration building. Yesterday, Archpriest Tamaz Lomidze announced that the situation in Ninotsminda boarding house is alarming and the children urgently need help.

It’s been months since the orphanage, which is subordinated to the Georgian Patriarchate, has been refusing to open its doors to either the social workers of the State Social Agency or the Public Defender's monitoring group. The refusal comes directly from the Archbishop of Skhalta, Spiridon, who says that "they will never enter." Public Defender has been writing for years that cases of violence against children and their punishment have been repeatedly reported at the St. Nino Children's Boarding School in Ninotsminda. Juveniles living in the boarding school are isolated from society. Lomjaria has repeatedly called on the Georgian government to respond to the condition Ninotsminda's children live in.