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In a special video message marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore called for better support for children with disabilities.
The video was recorded during a November visit to Kazakhstan where the British actor, perhaps best known for his role as James Bond, spent five days to advocate for the importance of upholding the rights of all children, especially those with disabilities, and address the issue of abandonment and stigmatisation.
During the trip, Sir Roger and his wife Lady Kristina, met and spoke with Government officials, members of civil society, parents and children to raise awareness about the importance of inclusion for all children and ensuring access to education, health care and protection against abuse and neglect.
At a school in Almaty Regionâs Karasay District, Sir Roger and Lady Kristina was joined by UNICEF Representative Hanaa Singer and hundreds of children in an earthquake and fire emergency preparedness drill. The exercise was part of a joint program on disaster risk reduction between UNICEF and the European Unionâs Disaster Preparedness Humanitarian Aid Department (DIPECHO). Kazakhstan is located in a geographic area prone to earthquakes and flooding.
Later that day, Sir Roger visited a baby home in Almaty, where he stressed the importance of ensuring that all children are raised in a loving family environment. With 75,000 children placed in state-run institutions, Kazakhstan ranks highest in terms of the number of children in state establishments per capita in Eastern and Central Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
On the third day of the trip, Sir Roger and Lady Kristina were joined by UNICEF National Ambassador for Kazakhstan, Batyrkhan Shukenov and Ms. Singer, at an event by Special Olympics Kazakhstan in Almaty.
UNICEF works closely with Special Olympics International and other organisations to advocate for health-care, education, recreation and employment policies benefiting all children with disabilities. There are over 150,000 children with disabilities in Kazakhstan, and only a third of them have access to educational and developmental programmes. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted on 13 December 2006, has been signed by Kazakhstan, increasing the status and visibility of disability as a human rights issue.
Sir Roger and Batyrkhan Shukenov spoke with children and their parents to learn more about the challenges that they face in everyday life. Both stressed the importance of changing societyâs attitude towards vulnerable children, including those with disabilities and those living with HIV, to ensure inclusion and avoid stigmatisation.
During a press conference later in the day, Sir Roger stressed that when it comes to improving the lives of children â everyone has a role to play. âWe all have a responsibility of doing our duties as a human being and help the man next door â especially the child.â
While in Kazakhstan, Sir Roger and Lady Kristina also attended a Charity Ball organized by Eventica Group, in support of UNICEFâs programme on children with disabilities. The Ball, which included representatives of the corporate sector, Government officials and public figures, was a first of its kind in Kazakhstan to support UNICEF in the country.