Reuniting children and parents in Uzbekistan

In Uzbekistan, over 46,000 orphans and vulnerable children live in institutions rather than a family home. Most are children with disabilities. But, as Laura Clark explains, UNICEF’s work is helping to reunite parents and children.

Nazirbek, 6, and Nodirbek, 7, were put into care when their mother left the family. Nazirbek, 6, and Nodirbek, 7, were put into care when their mother left the family. They’ve now been reunited with their father, thanks to a local UNICEF-supported NGO. © UNICEF/2011/Uzbekistan

Children are put into care in Uzbekistan because of disability, poverty, ill-treatment and parental abandonment. In fact it’s become so ‘normal’ for these children to be put into care that many parents and professionals believe that orphans and vulnerable children are better off living in institutions.

UNICEF is committed to preventing the separation of children from their families whenever and wherever possible. But when there’s no particular public focus on the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in countries like Uzbekistan, it’s difficult to raise funds to ensure that our work for them continues. That’s when unrestricted donations make a real difference.

In Uzbekistan we work with a national NGO to identify children at risk, help prevent further harm and institutionalisation, and help institutionalised children return to their families and homes.

Nazirbek and Nodirbek’s mother abandoned the family when the children were younger, so the boys and their two sisters were taken to an institution. In an attempt to bring his children home, Mr Rakhimov worked closely with his district’s UNICEF-supported family and child support team. The team worked with local authorities to ensure that Mr Rakimov’s two sons were taken out of institutional care and placed back into his own.

Nazirbek, 6, and Nodirbek, 7, with their father, Avaz Rakhimov, stepmother and grandmother, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.Nazirbek, 6, and Nodirbek, 7, with their father, Avaz Rakhimov, stepmother and grandmother, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1674/Giacomo Pirozzi

“Obviously, I’m very happy the boys have been returned to me,” said Mr Rakhimov. “I’m doing everything I can for them. This is their home and I don’t want them to be raised anywhere else.”

The family and child support team continues to help Mr Rakhimov, and he hopes that his daughters will soon be allowed to return home too.

We can’t overstate the value of unrestricted donations to UNICEF’s work to keep families together in Uzbekistan. Almost 90% of our funding for the family and child support team came from unrestricted funding – this vital support for families simply wouldn’t have been possible without it.

Laura Clark is Global Guardians Officer at UNICEF UK

This case study comes from UNICEF’s 2011 Regular Resources report.

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