EDITOR's NOTE: Details have been added in the eighth paragraph
Azerbaijan, Baku, October 22 / Trend S. Agayeva /
"Children are future of Azerbaijan. Let's not be indifferent towards their problems," Azerbaijan's First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, Mehriban Aliyeva, said addressing at a national conference on Child Protection Reform in Azerbaijan, which was dedicated to the Year of Children and the 20th anniversary of UN Convention on Child Rights.
The modern world has faced many global problems, including military conflicts and clashes, global climatic changes, epidemic and pandemic. But children's problems must be on the top place, Mehriban Aliyeva said.
She said that family atmosphere plays great role in forming children as personalities. "Respect for a family is one of the best qualities of Azerbaijani people. At present, an Azerbaijani woman, being a mother, takes an active part in social life of the country," she said.
"As a mother of three children, I think that motherhood is the most important mission in my life," Mehriban Aliyeva said.
She regretted that now definite part of children grows up without parents' care. All of us should worry about these children's destiny," Mrs Aliyeva said.
Mrs. Aliyeva said the Heydar Aliyev Foundation that she heads pays special attention to solving problems of these children. About 31 infantile schools were overhauled and equipped in Azerbaijan within the Fund's program 'Development of boarding schools and orphanages'.
However, none of modern and well-equipped boarding-schools and orphanages can replace a family, Mehriban Aliyeva said.
In March 2006, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev approved the state program to deliver children from children's homes to families (de-institutionalization) and alternative care.
Mehriban Aliyeva said that tremendous work is being done within this program covering 2006-2015. About 45 infantile institutions are planned for transformation in Azerbaijan within subsequent 3-5 years.
UNICEF representative in Azerbaijan Mark Hereward expressed readiness of the organization to combine efforts with the Azerbaijani government to protect children's rights.
He called on the Azerbaijani government and NGOs to improve tools on protection of children's rights, combine efforts and to strengthen potential of social employees in this sphere. UNICEF representative said Azerbaijan achieved breakthrough in alternative care for children and de- institutionalization.
"UNICEF is prepared to support the Azerbaijani government's efforts in this issue," Hereward said.
In his speech Azerbaijani Education Minister Misir Mardanov stressed services of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and its President Mehriban Aliyeva in solving children's problems in Azerbaijan.
He said that the government in cooperation with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and UNICEF prepares potential models of national organizations on protection of children's rights.
Protection of children's rights, providing them with profound education, creation of necessary conditions for it are priority spheres of Azerbaijan's children policy, chairman of the State Committee for Family, Woman and Children Affairs, Hijran Huseynova, said.
Huseynova drew attention of participants in the conference to necessity of strengthening potential of social employees and improvement of their professional skills.
A two-day-conference organized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Azerbaijani government, UNICEF and mobile operator Azercell, will end by adopting a declaration.
During today's meeting UNICEF representative in Azerbaijan Mark Hereward delivered a diploma and a memorable present to President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva for achievements in protection of children's rights in Azerbaijan.