From emergency response to policy implementation
The role of UNICEF in Serbia has changed many times through the decades. Our work has spanned the provision of UNICEF’s first relief supplies to the former Yugoslavia in the wake of the Second World War, and the years of centralized communist rule, when a grateful country raised funds for UNICEF’s work worldwide.
When the country descended into war in the 1990s, we helped the children and families caught up in the violence and uprooted from their homes, mounting a massive response that included immunization, education and special support for children traumatized by their experiences.
Today, Serbia is a fully-functioning democracy that had – before the global economic crisis of the late 2000s – made strong progress on poverty and economic growth. As a result, the situation of Serbia’s children has changed. Most children can now be sure of a good start in life, a healthy childhood and an education. But there are significant numbers of children on the edges of Serbian society – the poorest, children with disabilities, and children from Roma communities – whose rights are not fulfilled.
UNICEF has shifted its focus to concentrate on the most marginalized children. This requires more than the traditional ‘hands-on’ project to reach a small group of children. This is about building knowledge, monitoring progress, strengthening systems, creating social accountability to instil rights principles, and cementing the partnerships that will help Serbia, as a whole, meet its obligations to these children.