Map of the CEE/CIS region
UNICEF Photo: Fourth-graders seek shelter under a table during an earthquake preparedness exercise, at Elementary School No. 148 in the city of Almaty. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1591/Bell Fourth-graders seek shelter under a table during an earthquake preparedness exercise, at Elementary School No. 148 in the city of Almaty.

Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States

2014 Requirements: US$3,564,000

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The Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) region continues to be highly exposed to natural hazards, political and social instability, major economic challenges, deteriorating social infrastructure and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In humanitarian situations, these challenges have multiple impacts on the survival and well-being of children and mothers, including loss of life, injuries, displacement, protection concerns, health problems and lack of access to quality education. Turkey remains a humanitarian hotspot that, along with Armenia and Bulgaria, has received an influx of refugees from Syria. While the humanitarian needs of child refugees require priority attention, other threats are emerging from the crisis in Syria, including the risk of introducing the wild poliovirus into Europe. Countries in Central Asia1 are wary of potential refugee flows from Afghanistan as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdraws its troops. Meanwhile, tensions in Fergana Valley are impacting the lives of children and adolescents in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The poorest countries, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, remain extremely vulnerable economically and to natural hazards, and the growing anti-migrant sentiment in Russia may jeopardize the crucial regular remittances sent by Central Asian workers. In the South Caucasus,2 the unresolved disputes over Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia continue to limit humanitarian access and could impact the lives of children.

Regional Office (RO) - Planned results for 2014

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$2.5 million for 2013, and as of 31 October 2013, a total of US$267,109, of 11 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions. In disaster risk reduction, tools for improved risk and vulnerability analysis, school safety assessment and good practice documentation were developed as part of the regional knowledge and leadership agenda. These tools are supporting government departments to better target disaster-prone schools and communities for the development of mitigation strategies. The Regional Office organized a regional workshop on knowledge management for disaster risk reduction in education, which involved countries in Central Asia and the South Caucasus that are engaged in disaster risk reduction programming. The workshop provided a platform for stakeholders working on disaster risk reduction in education to share their experiences and approaches and provided an opportunity for representatives of the ministries of education and emergency situations, as well as UNICEF staff members, to exchange information and experiences. The Regional Office also supported emergency capacity development workshops in Azerbaijan, Kosovo3, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and conducted inter-agency emergency simulation exercises and contingency planning workshops in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Regional Office continued to provide on-site and remote technical assistance to the Turkey Country Office to support to the government-led response to Syrian refugees.

Building on disaster risk reduction interventions implemented in 2013, the CEE/CIS Regional Office will guide and support the implementation of multi-sector disaster risk reduction programmes in 11 countries and one territory, consistent with UNICEF’s commitment to resilience in the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan. The Regional Office will provide technical guidance to country offices to develop specific strategies and implement capacity development initiatives for UNICEF staff and government counterparts. The Regional Office will also strengthen engagement with regional organizations working on disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness, and will participate in and advocate for child-centred disaster risk reduction. Country offices will be supported to strengthen national capacity on child-centred disaster risk reduction, including the integration of disaster risk reduction into national policies and strategies. In line with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee approach to humanitarian action and the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, the Regional Office will work with country offices and humanitarian partners to plan and conduct emergency preparedness and contingency planning exercises to strengthen staff and partner capabilities to conduct timely and effective emergency response. With funds received through the Humanitarian Action for Children 2014, the Regional Office will conduct trainings on education, nutrition and health in emergencies, targeting at-risk countries and providing technical guidance to countries implementing WASH programming, with support from Headquarters. The Regional Office will also continue to support Turkey’s contingency planning and the government-led response to Syrian refugees. Organization of emergency simulation exercises and dissemination of the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action at the country level will be key to assessing preparedness and capacity gaps. Gaps will be addressed through targeted technical assistance to better equip country offices to support the preparedness and response of counterparts. Regional sector network meetings will include sessions on emergency preparedness, response and the latest humanitarian policies and tools to continue to strengthen the capacity of staff in the region. Country offices in Central Asia are closely monitoring their humanitarian situations and are engaging in local emergency preparedness planning to address possible population movements and growing insecurity related to the ISAF troop draw down in Afghanistan.

Armenia - Planned results for 2014

Results from 2013

Teachers from Kilikian School, parents and caregivers were introduced to the range of emotional problems faced by children in conflict situations, and supported the development of relevant coping mechanisms in conflict and post-conflict situations. Training was provided to enhance skills and competences for providing psychological support and support for coping with cultural differences. Pre-school children’s readiness for school was enhanced through the organization of a three-month pre-school programme for 60 children with the guidance of 19 Syrian-Armenian teachers. The integration of 90 Syrian-Armenian youth was enhanced and students’ engagement in community-led processes was promoted through a recreational and rehabilitation summer camp.

Armenia is hosting more than 11,000 Syrian Armenians4 displaced by the conflict in Syria, including 2,000 children and youth that are living in refugee-like situations and need protection.5 Between 200 and 300 additional refugees arrive from Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt every week. In general, the refugees arriving now are more vulnerable than the refugees that arrived during earlier stages of the conflict.6 In Armenia, the most serious challenges facing Syrian-Armenian refugees are finding livelihoods and affordable shelter and learning the language. In September 2012, the Government established the Kilikian School, where more than 300 Syrian-Armenian children are learning a Syrian curriculum. In November, the school was closed with no perspective for reopening, and all Syrian-Armenian children have been placed in different schools in Yerevan and in neighbouring areas. With the Government only offering limited opportunities for schooling for under-school-aged children, there is an urgent need to facilitate access to kindergarten. Another priority is to protect and improve children’s mental health and psychosocial well-being. In 2014, UNICEF will support: (1) the school readiness of 200 preschool-aged children from the most vulnerable families, including those with disabilities, through the organization of a 10-month preschool programme; (2) the integration of approximately 200 Syrian-Armenian youth into community-led processes, including after school recreational activities (e.g. art, music and sports) and rehabilitation summer camps; and (3) the provision of medical support to Syrian-Armenian children and youth.

Bulgaria - Planned results for 2014

More than 10,000 refugees have entered Bulgaria since September 2013, according to the State Agency for Refugees. Approximately 70 per cent of these refugees are from Syria (at least 7,000 Syrian refugees), with the remaining 30 per cent from Afghanistan and African countries. Roughly half of the Syrian refugees are living in refugee centres, and half are living in rented accommodations. The total number of child refugees is estimated to be 3,000, with 131 child refugees reported as unaccompanied between January and October 2013.7 Registration is ongoing by national refugee authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2014, UNICEF will support refugees with the following interventions: (1) advocacy and technical support for legislation change and the development of referral mechanisms and adequate services for unaccompanied minors; (2) advocacy and support to the Ministry of Education for school enrolment and access to education, and to the Ministry of Health, primarily for health communication related to vaccination and access to services; and (3) communication for social change.

Tajikistan - Planned results for 2014

Results from 2013

Although UNICEF appealed for US$1,872,500 for 2013, no humanitarian funding was received as of the end of October 2013. As a result, UNICEF used resources from its regular programme to strengthen the capacity of government and non-government service providers to implement child protection mechanisms for emergency situations and quickly mobilize psychosocial and other support. An action plan for child protection in emergencies was developed and adopted both at the national level and in five districts. UNICEF’s timely response to the November earthquake included the provision of supplies for the continued education of the children that attended the two damaged schools, and meeting the immediate needs of affected children and their families. Disaster risk reduction in education continued and directly benefitted approximately 5,800 schoolchildren.

Located in a mountainous and seismic zone, Tajikistan is prone to natural disasters. Every year, a variety of natural disasters occurs, including earthquakes, floods and mudflows. While most of these disasters are small in scale and have a local impact, the effects on vulnerable children and their communities can be devastating and the Government is not always in a position to provide the necessary support. The most recent example is the 5.2 magnitude earthquake in central Tajikistan, which occurred on 10 November 2013, and completely destroyed over a hundred houses and damaged two schools and two health facilities.8 In 2014, UNICEF will continue to respond to these disasters as and when required. UNICEF will also continue to work on disaster risk reduction in the health, education and child protection sectors. Tajikistan's long border with Afghanistan makes it vulnerable to the effects of the conflict and the instability taking place there, while tensions in the Fergana Valley are a threat in the north. In 2014, the ISAF troop draw down in Afghanistan may have an impact on Tajikistan, either through an influx of refugees or in terms of increased insecurity due to a spill-over of instability. In 2014, UNICEF will focus its contingency planning on this possibility. UNICEF will also build on work on child protection in emergencies that was initiated with local authorities and national partners in 2013, to strengthen local capacities to protect children in emergency situations.

Funding requirements

The CEE/CIS Regional Office is requesting US$4,606,200 for regional- and country-level activities in humanitarian action and disaster risk reduction, of which US$3,564,000 is required for activities led by the Regional Office. This funding will allow UNICEF to support governments and partners to deliver quality and timely assistance during emergencies and support preparedness and risk reduction interventions in the region. Regional funding may also be used to respond to situations in the region that are not included in a separate chapter of Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 and may not benefit from inter-agency flash appeals to respond to small- or medium-size emergencies. Another US$1 million is sought to support humanitarian action in Armenia, Bulgaria and Tajikistan.

1 Countries in ‘Central Asia’ include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
2 The ‘South Caucasus’ includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. 
3 All references to Kosovo in this publication should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
4 Syrian Armenians refer to Syrian nationals of Armenian descent.
5 Reported by the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora.
6 Ibid.
7 Reported by the State Agency for Refugees.
8 Reported by the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.