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UNICEF: Political Violence and Unrest in Madagascar Impacts Children the Most
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UNICEF: Political Violence and Unrest in Madagascar Impacts Children the Most

The recent political turmoil in Madagascar has had a devastating impact on the lives of many of the country's children. UNICEF and its partners have been providing pyschosocial support to young people in this troubled island nation to help them cope with the violence they have experienced. 

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Produced by UNICEF Television.

Learn more about UNICEF's efforts to rehabilitate children affected by conflict in Madagascar.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Since January, the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar has been a country in crisis. The unconstitutional change in government and its subsequent international isolation has deepened poverty and had a devastating impact on the lives of the countries' children and young people. In order to better understand what they had experienced, UNICEF and its partners conducted a study of 12,800 youth and children from all over capital, which sought to capture their experiences and perceptions. The results indicate that all were affected in one way or another -- either they committed, suffered, or witnessed violence and abuse. Students at the Lycée Rabearivelo, a high school in the center of the capital, were especially hard hit. Rioting, looting, and shooting took place right outside their school gates. Students bore witness to extreme violence and death and feared for their own lives.
YOUTH
I wasn't involved in the rioting or looting but I witnessed violence. I saw people looting shops and I myself was tear-gassed and it burned my eyes. I saw security forces shooting, it felt like a movie, but I always witnessed violence. I saw many, many dead people outside the shops belonging to Ravalomanana. I saw a pregnant woman who had been shot dead and I can't get the image out of my mind.
VOICEOVER
In response to the violence, UNICEF has been working hard to deal with the emotional and psychological trauma suffered by children. It is part of an effort to make sure that their rights be protected against all form of exploitation, especially violence and abuse, as outlined in article 36 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The organization's education and child protection sections have supported the training of social workers and the implementation of psychosocial support to both primary and secondary schools. Over 33,000 children from 60 different schools throughout the country were assisted between April and August.
NOROTIANA JEANNODA RANDIMBIARISON [social worker]
The main goal of the psychosocial support is to help students to express themselves, to express their emotions, their feelings, and to help with their schoolwork. Social workers do individual counseling with students who were individual victims of violence.
VOICEOVER
The psychosocial sessions are adapted according to students' age and they express themselves through drawing, writing, and singing. Through these activities they confront and deal with their trauma.
NOROTIANA JEANNODA RANDIMBIARISON
After the psychosocial support, we asked the students to evaluate it: 90 percent of them felt that it had really helped them. Many of them said they are now much happier and we see it in their faces, in their actions.
VOICEOVER
In response to the instability, child-friendly spaces have also been reinforced and developed throughout Antananarivo. They give younger, preschool children a safe place to play and learn, away from the potentially volatile streets. They are supervised and given toys, games, and musical instruments to play with. While the political stalemate continues, interventions like these are helping Madagascar's children and youth move on with their lives while re-instilling traditional values. With luck they will not make the same violent mistakes their political leaders have. This is Guy Hubbard reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for Children.