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153

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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SANITARY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS 153
in spirits or cocaine, or gambled away. The
illegal trade done by these children in spirits and
narcotics (chiefly cocaine) is astoundingly large.
" This shows," says the Isvestia, " the decadence
in our home life, in our education, in the growing
unemployment, ’and in the general demoralisation
of the people." i
By request of the Moscow Soviet the Pan-
Russian Executive Committee has taken steps to
combat this evil, and has instructed the Extra
ordinary Commission (the Tcheka) to form a
special children’s tcheka, largely consisting of
children below sixteen years of age, in order to
deal with the child criminals. i
Everyone knows that no plague is more catching
than criminal epidemics such as this, terribly de
structive as they are in their effects. And of course
they are never so infectious and destructive as
when they lay hold on the susceptible mind of
the child. We have here a grave danger whose
menace is not confined to Russia. i
According to a report which I have just received
from my representative in Ukraine, Captain Quis
ling, the conditions among homeless children seem
to be very bad there, even though they may be
less bad than those described above.
Out of Ukraine’s 1 1 million children more than
a million are orphans or semi-orphans. About
150,000 are in various children’s hornes or the
like, where, however, the general state of things
is unsatisfactory both as regards feeding and
accommodation. The mortality is therefore very

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