CHILDREN OF THE SILK ROAD

The global community has been ambivalent towards babies, adolescents, and teenagers and although many societies have nurtured and protected their young the stark fact remains – that for centuries children have been exploited and abused. The statistics are almost unimaginable.
 
  • 250,000 children die every week from diseases and malnutrition,
  • 12 million children die before reaching their fifth year,
  • 100 million homeless children living in the streets around the world,
  • 2 million children are objects of sexual abuse - child pornography and demand for child prostitutes is increasing globally,
  • 20 million children are refugees or internally displaced in their homeland
  • 2 million children have died and another 6 million injured in armed conflicts in the past decade alone.
And now, due to the twin epidemics of HIV and AIDS millions of children are being orphaned at a rate unparalled in world history.

 

SOUTH CAUCASUS


The conditions in Georgia's state orphanages are so harsh that many children prefer to take their chances on the street.  Just 40 miles from Tbilisi, the children in the state-run Kaspi children's home survive on bread and water - and those who do not survive are buried in cardboard boxes!  In winter the building freezes, in summer it is infested with insects.  A representative from the US Embassy said "In all the years I have worked in Third World countries, I have never seen anything as appalling as the Kaspi children's home."

In most of the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union, economic dislocation has ensured children in state institutions have not fared well.  These orphanages receive scarce public or private support: children and staff survive primarily on intermittent food, bedding and clothing assistance from international donors. 

Most orphanage buildings have fallen into serious disrepair and lack functioning water and sewage services, electricity or basic heating facilities.

 
 
Such medieval conditions and human misery of little children is not unusual in many of the state institutions -  not only in Georgia but in other countries along the Silk Road.

In war-stricken Afghanistan there are over one million orphans, many herded into disintegrating buildings, where disease is rampant, and food minimal.  In China, millions of girl children are abandoned to starvation and unnatural death, dying in institutional care.

The next wave of orphans is expected in Asia,  where the orphan population is expected to triple within the next 12 months as the AIDS pandemic makes its impact.  Within countries on the Great Silk Road trade routes some of the most vulnerable children in the world are struggling to survive. 

Children alone cannot argue for their rights - they need advocates to help them understand their rights, to work actively on their behalf and to build global, regional and national coalitions to ensure the world community is made fully aware of the abuses perpetrated on children.

WomenAid International, working in Silk Road countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus since 1994, has implemented humanitarian, development and reconstruction programmes during the years of great need and has remained in the region to develop programmes assisting vulnerable women and children.  Following the collapse of the Soviet Union all the newly independent states experienced enormous economic dislocation which has lead to the disintegration of social infrastructures.  People have suffered great hardship, none more so than women and children.  Having adopted a Silk Road Strategy, WomenAid International continues to work with supportively in the region.

Children of the Silk Road Programme aims to allievate suffering of children by:

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959, states that "the child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity."

WomenAid Silk Road Programme ~ Child Focus ~ Home

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