UNICEF in Romania
The UNICEF Country Office began its operations in Romania in 1991. UNICEF works with a wide variety of partners including government, non-governmental organisations, children and adolescents, other UN agencies, and donors. In Romania, UNICEF promotes child rights and supports child health and nutrition, quality education and the protection of children from violence, neglect, exploitation and HIV/AIDS.
Despite impressive economic progress, more than one million children (representing 25.4% of the child population) are living in poverty, and over 350,000 live in severe poverty. Poverty among Roma children is 4 times higher than among the population in general. In 2009 the number of children who died before reaching the age of one year old was 10.1 per thousand as compared to 31 in 1990. Despite this progress, child mortality is still the highest in the European Union. In 2007,almost 21% of the Roma population bellow the age of 40 had not accesed any level of education (as compared to 0.8% of the non-Roma population). There are 6,600 adolescents and youth aged 15 to 24 affected by HIV/AIDS among whom discrimination, stigma and and social exclusion are also major issues of concern. There are around 17.000injecting drug users engaging in risk behaviour for HIV/AIDS transmission. In 2008, about 24,000 children werestill living in institutions - mostly older children, of whom many have special needs. An emerging issue is the number of children left behind by migrating parents: an estimated 350,000 children have one or both parents living abroad.
UNICEF’s Mission in Romania
UNICEF is committed to work with the Government and other partners to ensure that all Romanian children are able to maximise their full potential and fully enjoy their rights. UNICEF is applying global best practices to strengthen Health, Education and Child Protection systems and services and to empower families with knowledge to better care for their children and grandchildren.
UNICEF in ActionBest start in life and early childhood development: The early years of life are crucial. Reaching children in a holistic manner and incorporating health, nutrition, education and interventions that support their full development is extremely important.Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months is the best way to ensure a child’s healthy growth and development but it is quite low in Romania, with only 12.6 % of 6 month old babies being fed exclusively with mother’s milk. UNICEF is working for the creation of baby-friendly hospitals and mother support groups as a way of increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates. Another area of intervention is the development and implementation of Early Learning and Development Standardsand a thorough curriculum for early education. UNICEF is working with the Government and its NGO partners to ensure that all children are physically healthy, and developmentally ready for learningand that they have access to a proper pre-school education.
Parenting education: Parenting education helps parents take better care of their children, how they should interact with them, how to listen and understand them and how to do the things which ensure their child reaches its full potential. UNICEF supports its partners – NGOs and authorities – in the efforts they put in to implement nationwide parenting programmes, with special emphasis onreaching the most vulnerable families.
Education for all: Once childrens’ access to a quality rights-based education is ensured, a ripple effect of opportunity is created that impacts generations to come. UNICEF is working with partners in vulnerable communities to address dropout and absenteeism through a school attendance campaign. Which is being implemented throughout the country.
Protection of children and adolescents: Protection of children is crucial to their survival, health and well-being. UNICEF works with its partners to strengthen the systems that prevent and address abuse and exploitation of children, particularly those outside parental care and in conflict with the law. UNICEF promotes social policies with a focus on the prevention of child abandonment, protection of children with disabilities and the improvement of the juvenile justice system.
Fighting HIV/AIDS: Young people affected by HIV/AIDS are facing gaps in education and barriers to their social inclusion.UNICEF works with partners on integrating such young people into social and working environments to create a better life for them and to fight stigma and discrimination. Adolescents engaging in risk behaviours, like injecting drugs or engaging in transactional sex are the target of UNICEF’s programme to prevent and minimise the risk of HIV infection.
Preventive services at community level: UNICEF works with its partners to strengthen the network of social workers, community nurses and Roma health mediators in order to increase the quality and accessibility of health and social services in poor communities. The focus is on the consolidation of formal and informal community networks of professionals to increase local capacity to prevent violations of child rights such as the separation of the child from the family, abuse, neglect, or child exploitation.
Advocacy and Child Rights Monitoring: To ensure that policy reforms become a reality for children throughout the country, UNICEF works with Government and NGOpartners at national and local level to promote better policies for children and strengthen institutions and capacities for better monitoring of child rights violations.
Responding to emergencies: UNICEF remains dedicated to providing life-saving assistance to children affected by disasters and to protecting their rights, and is always ready to respond to emergencies with a focus on sustainable community rehabilitation and development projects.
Funding: In 2010,UNICEFhad a budget of over USD 2.2million, of which 55% are funds raised locally. Since 2005, UNICEF has been developing local fundraising activities, involving both the business sector and private individuals to help finance its programmes in Romania.