20 Apr “We need to shut down the House of Mercy No. 5 in Kitab district!” – Children’s rights ombudsman
Сhildren’s rights ombudsman Aliya Yunusova who has been working in this status since the position was established in April 2019, visited Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya regions on April 12-15. The visit was organised to ensure the implementation of the resolution of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated March 15, 2021 “On the organisation of a comprehensive study on further strengthening the legal framework for social support of orphans and children deprived of parental care or other legal representatives.”
According to the resolution, a working group and an action plan to study the conditions created for orphans and children deprived of parental care in the regions on a competitive basis were approved. The working group includes the children’s rights ombudsman who has monitored the conditions created for orphans and children deprived of parental care include the state of medical care, rehabilitation, healthy nutrition, the process of returning children to their families, employment of graduates and their social adaptation to society. In general, the working group studied the status, problems and suggestions to improve the social support system of children in Uzbek institutions.
The study was also conducted at the House of Mercy (orphanage) No. 1 in Kitab District, Kashkadarya region. On the day of the study, there were 65 children (including 28 girls) in the institution, 15 of whom were full orphans (who has lost both parents).
“The first course was cabbage soup, too fatty and with a peculiar smell. During lunch, the children were not given juices,” – said Aliya Yunusova.
“We need to shut down the House of Mercy No. 5 in Kitab district! The children are living in very bad conditions,” – said Children’s rights ombudsman Aliya Yunusova based on the monitoring results of the working group.
As a result of the investigation, the Kitab district prosecutor’s office also revealed that insufficient conditions were created for the children, the equipment was outdated, the basic hygiene standards were not implemented, and the food warehouse did not meet sanitary requirements. Consequently, the House of Mercy No. 5 director and warehouse manager were dismissed. The deputy director was made subject to disciplinary responsibility; an administrative offence case was initiated against the supply and maintenance manager and the nutrition nurse.
We should remember that this has only become known and how many corruption cases and violence against children are not made public. I have not been in any orphanages in Uzbekistan as these “merciless homes” are usually closed-type institutions so that outsiders cannot see what is really happening in them. Last year I wrote an op-ed at Gazeta.uz on “Why we need to shut down orphanages in Uzbekistan?”. In the article, I provided 5 reasons why institutions are harmful to children and 5 myths about the necessity of orphanages. Unfortunately, the process of transforming care (deinstitutionalisation) in Uzbekistan is stuck, and the Ministry of Public Education, which is the main responsible state body for the reform, is quite passive and not responsive.