UNICEF urges Russia to put best interests of children firstListen /
The government of Russia has been urged to let the best interests of children determine its actions.
The appeal comes from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) following a reported overwhelming vote in the Russian Parliament to ban American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, says UNICEF welcomes Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev's call for the improvement of the child welfare system.
However, he adds, the agency urges that the current plight of the many Russian children in institutions receives priority attention.
Mr. Lake says the agency encourages the government to establish what he calls "a robust national social protection plan to help strengthen Russian families."
According to Mr. Lake, alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential, including permanent foster care as well as domestic and inter-country adoption.
Dianne Penn, United Nations.