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 Report - SCHOOLS FOR THE CHILDREN (ICRC)

 Report date: 30.06.1998

SCHOOLS FOR THE CHILDREN

The tragic reality of the war and of the transition period has affected numerous families in the country. Destroyed houses, schools in ruins, displaced people and lack of resources have become the lot of those who come from the front-line districts. But among all those unfortunate people, the children are the ones who have been suffering most from this situation.

The vision of the badly damaged schools deeply drew the attention of the ICRC delegate responsible for construction, when he first visited the front-line districts. Leaky roofs, rotten floors, broken windows were the pathetic conditions in which the kids were supposed to study. Following the principle of the greatest aid to the most vulnerable, the ICRC decided to set up a school rehabilitation programme intended to give the children the opportunity to pursue their education. Launched in the district of Fizuli, 12 schools were completed by the end of 1997.

"Making the building watertight was the first thing to be done in the schools. It was a priority that the kids could study in places which were dry !" stressed Eric Weissen, construction delegate. In order to get good thermal insulation, it was necessary to make artificial ceilings, to mend all the holes which had appeared under the roofs, and to make all the walls watertight.

The second step of the work included the repair of the doors and windows, as well as the plastering and painting. A special wood heating system, preventing the kids from being cold in winter, has also been installed in every classroom. The space available has been utilized to get the biggest possible number of classrooms in each school.

This year eight more schools, chosen in collaboration with representatives of the Ministry of Education, have been reconstructed in the districts of Gedabay, Tovuz, Agstafa and Kazakh and nine more will be finished by the end of October 1998.

Thanks to the ICRC school rehabilitation programme, 6500 children will be able to continue their education in optimal conditions.

The children are innocent of the tragedies of the time. Moreover, they represent the new generation. Let's help them to build the future!

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT : A REALITY AT LAST.

The Diplomatic Conference on the establishment of an international criminal court opened in Rome on 15 June.

For the ICRC, the establishment of an international criminal court is of special importance. Indeed, the ICRC believes that this development will give greater weight to Article 1 common to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions, whereby States undertake not only to respect the provisions of the Conventions but also to ensure respect for them.

On July 17, after years of relentness efforts and five weeks of intense negotiations, the Statute of the permanent International criminal court was finally adopted.

The ICRC welcomes this historical event. It sincerely hopes that this Statute will allow the Court to fight efficiently against those criminals who mock the international community and whose impunity is an invitation to crime.

The signing and ratification of this treaty by a very large number of States is therefore a must, as they will be providing the Court with adequate funding and staff of a high quality.

FROM FOOD DISTRIBUTION TO FOOD PRODUCTION.

A new ICRC assistance programme designed to help the Tajik prison administration start producing food for detainees is about to yield its first crops. Seed, fertilizers and various agricultural supplies were provided by the ICRC.

Both the prison authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture welcomed this programme, which will allow them to grow enough food for the detainees.

Last week delegates proceeded with the final food distributions in prisons, putting an end to the nutritional assistance programme which the ICRC had launched in the summer of 1996 to reduce the alarming death rate among the 7,000 detainees who are languishing in Tajik jails.

Although the programme achieved its aim, surveys show that the overall situation remains far from satisfactory. Each month the ICRC distributed about 120 tons of food for the detainees.



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