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 Report - Children in the Southern Camps Start a New School Year (IFRC)

 Report date: 31.08.2001

Children in the Southern Camps Start a New School Year
Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) organized distribution of books donated by Exxon Azerbaijan Operating Company LLC

The First of September marked the start of a New School Year in Azerbaijan. But this was not the only reason that made this day special for the IDP children living in the Southern Camps in Sabirabad, Bilasuvar and Saatli districts. An Official Ceremony due to the start of a New School Year and a Knowledge Day was organized at the Community Activity Centre in Camp 3 and was opened by the Head of the Federation Delegation in Azerbaijan Mr. Knut Kaspersen. The Ceremony was linked to the books distribution organized by the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society with support of the Federation Sabirabad Field Office staff.

More than 3000 Children's Encyclopedias, 1000 Oxford Picture Word Books (English - Azeri dictionaries), 2000 Mathematics textbooks and stationery kits were donated to the children by the Exxon Azerbaijan Operating Company LLC (Exxon Azerbaijan) within the Children Support Project. The Project is an integral part of the Exxon Azerbaijan funded Community Development Programme for the Southern Camps, which has been implemented by the Federation from 1999. The aim of the project is to train the Red Crescent staff and volunteers on organizing meaningful occupation for the IDP children in their out-of-school time. The Southern IDP Camps, seven in total, were initiated in 1993 as a temporary decision for settlement of IDPs displaced from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in the result of the armed conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. To-date, with no progress so far in peace negotiations over the settlement of the conflict, the Southern Camps still host around 6,600 IDP families with more than 11,000 children growing up in inadequate living conditions. Adults, which aim all their efforts to survive and earn a piece of bread for their families, have no capacity to afford expensive books and even basic stationery.

There are currently 18 schools in the Southern Camps, where teachers try their best to educate children with shortage of quality textbooks and other training materials. "This is now the fourth year that the Exxon Azerbaijan has been regularly donating books to our children. And this time it was a really great idea to link the books distribution to a Knowledge Day on the 1st of September, so that our schoolchildren got them in a perfect timing. This will let us include in our curriculum some topics covered by the Children Encyclopedia and also improve the quality of our English classes owing to these nice illustrated Picture Word Books printed out in Latin alphabet", said Ms. Ulker Guliyeva, Director of school in Camp 1 (Sabirabad). The books had been distributed among the schoolchildren in all seven camps, as well as donated to all 18 schools."People all over the world see their prosperous future in a well-educated young generation. And this is the highest motivation that makes us invest in education of children here in Azerbaijan", Mr. Joseph Carlson, Government and Public Affairs Manager of Exxon Azerbaijan, said during the Ceremony. Drina Karahasanovic, the IFRC Community Development Delegate, expressed her attitude to the books donation, saying:" This is a generally accepted concept that any kind of distribution activities is associated with relief assistance. But the distribution of books might be the only exclusion out of that and should be definitely considered as a development activity, since the investment is made in knowledge."

Joint efforts of Exxon-Azerbaijan and the Federation's Delegation in Azerbaijan put in to reduce the vulnerability of IDP communities in the Southern Camps is a wonderful example of collaboration between the humanitarian and commercial companies aimed at development of Azerbaijan.

Nigar Garibova
Info/Reporting Officer
IFRC, Delegation in Azerbaijan

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