UNHCR Tajikistan fosters peaceful co-existence among refugees and host communities
The small kindergarten # 4 in Vahdat waited in anticipation for guests to arrive on the morning of October 20, 2016. On this day, UNHCR Tajikistan and its partner Refugee Children and Vulnerable Citizens (RCVC) had come especially to handover much needed furniture to this school which hosts children from both refugee and host communities. All the guests, including representatives from local Government were greeted with smiles, joy and poetry in Tajik, Russian and English from children as young as five years.
The kindergarten continues to receive new enrolments annually but had been facing challenges in equipping its modest premises. As part of the Office’s efforts to promote peaceful co-existence among refugees and Tajik nationals, UNHCR and RCVC provided 20 bunk beds, 40 mattresses as well as 10 tables and 40 chairs for their classroom. The kindergarten was also able to build two sheltered play areas for the children. New furniture will enhance the learning experience and allow for various activities indoors and outdoors.
The Deputy Head of the City Administration and Chief Specialist of the Education Department of Vahdat who participated in the handover ceremony, expressed their appreciation, acknowledging the importance of promoting social cohesion.
“Afghans are our brothers. We have to provide the necessary support to them, living in such challenging situation, in exile. We appreciate such initiatives, as they promote peace, build confidence between the communities and enhances feelings of good neighborliness”, - said Jalilov Rajabali, Chief Specialist of the Education Department of Vahdat city during the handover ceremony.
This is not the first contribution of UNHCR and RCVC to promote coexistence between the generous Tajik people and the Afghan refugees who found peace in Tajikistan. A similar initiative was also undertaken in August where technical equipment was handed over to the Adult Education Center in Vahdat, which provides vocational trainings both to refugees and to Tajiks. As Vahdat hosts the largest refugee population in the country, UNHCR and RCVC are always mindful of the situation of hosting communities.
The Republic of Tajikistan hosts the largest number of asylum seekers and refugees in Central Asia —around 3,000 primarily from neighboring Afghanistan, while the country continues to receive asylum seekers both from Afghanistan and further abroad. Where refugee children globally have often limited access to education, the sight and sounds of children playing and studying together in this small kindergarten, remind us of how important it is for them to be able to attend school in a safe and nurturing environment.