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Moldova: British Charity Works To Save Orphans

London, 30 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- A British charity has launched an emergency appeal to prevent abandoned children in Moldova from dying from cold, hunger and neglect this winter.

The London-based European Children's Trust said today that it has so far raised more than $100,000 to relieve the plight of handicapped girls in the Casa de Coppi orphanage at Hincesti.

Paul Bailey, a British social worker who is leading the charity's work in Moldova, says that last winter 30 of 130 handicapped girls at the orphanage died from malnutrition, neglect and cold.

"Unless something is done now, this will be the fate of many of the 200 girls between 3 and 16 currently living there," he said.

The orphanage needs 1.6 million lei ($60,000) a year to keep it running, but the Moldovan government provides only a fraction of this sum. Almost all of the money goes on the salaries of the orphanage's 120 employees.

Bailey said in a charity statement: "Unless funds are raised elsewhere in Europe, many of these children will be dead by Christmas."

The British charity says an estimated 40,000 Moldovan children -- what it calls "a shocking 10 percent of the child population" -- have been abandoned to state-run institutions by their parents because of poverty and lack of family support from the Moldovan government.

The worst of the state orphanages have no hot water, electricity or medicines. The children are fed only porridge or rice and in some cases live two to three in a single cot.

The funds raised by the British charity will provide food, bedding and heating for the Hincesti orphanage. It hopes to offer the same help to children suffering similar conditions in other Moldovan orphanages.

The European Children's Trust was launched last year and has close links with another British charity, the Romanian Orphanage Trust, which works to improve conditions for abandoned Romanian children.

The Trust is working with Moldovan authorities to put in place the beginnings of a social work system that will keep families together.

Its campaign follows an appeal from Moldovan politicians for urgent help to address the problems of institutionalized children.

The Trust says that state solutions to family problems were the common inheritance of all the former communist countries, and that today orphanage populations across the region "continue to rise as thousands of poor people pay the cost for economic adjustment."