More than 60,000 children with disabilities live in Azerbaijan. Until recently many were excluded from the education system because schools and teachers were not able to meet their individual needs. More than 10,000 children are living and/or studying in 44 children’s institutions; traditionally known as ‘orphanages’. Many of these children have parents that do not have the resources to take care of them at home. ‘Institutionalising’ children has also been an accepted practice when a child has a disability or when a child is born to a single mother or parents that simply cannot cope financially. World Vision is supporting the effective implementation of the State deinstitutionalisation process, working on social inclusion for children with disabilities and advocating for the improvement of the national child-related legislation.
World Vision entered Azerbaijan in June 1994 to assist the one million people displaced by the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Garabakh with the initial focus on meeting the urgent needs of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees.
As the World Food Programme’s main implementing partner, World Vision focused on the distribution of supplementary food rations to IDPs and refugees, together with other essential household items and expanded its operations to include rehabilitation of schools, clinics and homes. The distributions covered IDPs in 32 districts in the north, south-west and central areas of Azerbaijan until 2006.
Gradually, relief projects transitioned into rehabilitation and development with a broader outreach tothe wider population of vulnerable groups.
Today, as a leading agency in implementing children’s programmes with a special focus on education for children with special needs and institutionalised children, World Vision Azerbaijan has been engaged in advocating for the normal legal and social environment and for integration of these children into mainstream education and life.
Approximately 147 children with disabilities were integrated into mainstream schools amidst continued initiatives to improve existing legislation for mainstream education of children with disabilities. In 2011, 88 children were integrated into secondary classes.
World Vision in Azerbaijan has projects in Mingacevir and Agcabedi (regions of Azerbaijan), Sumgayit (city close to capital), and in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. World Vision in Azerbaijan also works with Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs in a number of IDP public buildings throughout the country.