UNODC virtual workshop helps Uzbek psychologists and sociologists to work with children, repatriated from conflict zones

17-19 March 2021 – Following various repatriations in 2019, most recently, some 25 women and 73 children under the age of 18 were returned to the Republic of Uzbekistan from conflict zones in December 2020. 14 children had lost their parents and are orphans. Having faced violence and survived war, they now need to restart their life.


To support the reintegration of children returned from conflict zones , the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of Uzbekistan with financial support from the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) held a three-day online capacity-building workshop for approximately 30 psychologists, sociologists, justice professionals, legal practitioners and representatives from ministries, associations and civil society organizations from the Republic of Uzbekistan.  

The workshop provided participants with tailored approaches and practical guidance  to implement effective and comprehensive support strategies, adapted to the needs of children affected by the foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) phenomenon, and to protect children who have returned from conflict zones from re-traumatization and secondary victimization. The workshop focused on the importance of considering both the legal and psychosocial factors when supporting children affected by the FTF phenomenon.


Opening the workshop Mr. Koen Marquering, representing UNODC’s Regional Office for Central Asia, congratulated the Government of Uzbekistan for “its leadership in facilitating the return of its citizens and for the considerable resources invested in the design and implementation of legal and policy strategies, especially with respect to repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration”.Mr. Marquering highlighted the importance of multi-sectoral efforts and congratulated the commitment of the participants in “contributing to mitigate the significant challenge being faced”. In his words, “these efforts serve as an example to the international community”.

Ms. Nodirakhon Bobokhonova, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, noted in her statement that “only by adhering to the principle of the rule of law, will we be able to develop our society”. In her words, the judicial system went through many challenges during the pandemic, but ensuring the rights of people, especially children, has always been a priority. Ms. Bobokhonova highlighted the need to treat children returning from conflict zones as victims and afford them  the special attention they deserve.


Following this statement, Ms. Saule Mektepbayeva from the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT/UNCCT), congratulated the Government of Uzbekistan for its cooperation and the care being displayed in favour of children under the influence of terrorist groups. “It is a great honour to support the positive experience of Uzbekistan, which contributes to rendering the Central Asia region a leader in demonstrating that children are the core value of State policy”.

Ms. Dayan Farias Picon and Ms. Valerie Chmara, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer and Psychosocial Support Specialist, respectively, from UNODC’s Justice Section led participants through practical guidance and strategies for child-sensitive communication and age-, gender- and victim-sensitive approaches to mitigate the risk of re-traumatization and secondary victimization while interacting with these children.


“Recognizing that these children experience violence and neglect differently and may face different and heightened consequences of trauma, the workshop aimed to support the government’s efforts to not only uphold children’s rights and strengthen legal protective measures, but also to urge legal professionals to comprehensively understand the unique context of each child, their particular experiences, and their specific developmental, behavioural and social needs”, stressed  Ms. Dayan Farias Picon. “A special focus was placed on psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions for post-traumatic stress”.

This virtual workshop built on extensive work that UNODC has undertaken through its Global Programme to End Violence against Children, as well as efforts made in the region to support Members States in fighting the Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) phenomenon.

For further background on the UNODC approach to this phenomenon, please view: UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups.



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