Europe and Central Asia Region Appeal
Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Children and families across Europe and Central Asia face multiple risks, including earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks, conflict and mixed migration movements.
- An estimated 4.7 million people are at risk of earthquakes and 7.5 million children are exposed to flooding. Measles cases have increased seven-fold since 2022. Political and socioeconomic volatility and rising inflation have exacerbated vulnerability of communities and resulted in a 19 per cent rise in child poverty.
- Pressure on the Mediterranean and Balkan routes intensified in 2023, with arrival of approximately 240,187 refugees and migrants, (32,412 children) in five key countries , a 49 percent increase from 2022. Among them,16,638 children were unaccompanied and separated from their families. Afghan refugees and their host communities remain in need of specialized support, with continued risks of new arrivals in Central Asia.
- UNICEF requires $39.6 million to deliver critical humanitarian support, including for refugee and migrant children on the move and to address sudden onset emergencies; invest in emergency preparedness and ensure disaster risk reduction capacities of Governments and partners. The goal is inclusive, gender-responsive, climate-adaptive humanitarian action and risk mitigation.
744,518 refugees/migrants present in 5 countries
154,528 refugee/migrant children present in 5 countries
7.5 million children exposed to riverine floods in the region
4.7 million people on average affected by earthquakes yearly
4 million children live in poverty
Funding requirements for 2024
Regional needs and strategy
Children and families across Europe and Central Asia are exposed to earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks, conflict, extreme weather events and increased population movements. Central Asia, South Caucasus and the Western Balkans are particularly prone to earthquakes and flooding. Nearly 30 per cent of capital cities in the region have been destroyed by earthquakes or floods in their history. In 2023, floods, avalanches and earthquakes affected over 15.2 million people in Türkiye and over 450,000 people in the Western Balkans and Central Asia. In Central Asia, natural disasters cause US$10 billion in economic losses annually. Approximately 92 million children experience heatwaves, 32.4 million face water scarcity and 7.5 million are exposed to floods. Political instability, conflict and displacement have further impacted millions of children and families. Refugee and migrant movements along the Mediterranean and Balkan routes increased by 49 percent in 2023, with over 240,187 arrivals, including 32,412 children (16,637 unaccompanied and separated), in five key countries, overwhelming national capacities to ensure sufficient hygiene, accommodation, health, protection and educational services. An estimated 744,518 refugees and migrants, including 154,528 children (29,252 unaccompanied and separated), are present in these countries. Women and girls face particular risk of gender-based violence. Inadequate reception, identification and protection mechanisms and limited alternative care and legal guardianship heighten vulnerability of unaccompanied children. Adolescents lack opportunities for skills building; xenophobia and discrimination are increasing. Risks of violence against children persist in reception sites, and families have limited assistance while awaiting asylum procedures. Additionally, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Albania host over 22,000 refugees from Afghanistan, many of whom require specialized support. The continuingly desperate humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, brings risk of new refugee arrivals. Continuing war in Ukraine, volatile political and socioeconomic conditions and rising inflation have increased child poverty in the region by 19 percent, pushing four million children into poverty. Disruption of services during COVID-19, coupled with significant population movements, has increased risks of vaccine-preventable diseases and cross-border epidemics. Measles cases have increased seven-fold since 2022. These situations require immediate investment in emergency preparedness, response and risk mitigation measures to enhance preparedness of communities and uphold rights of children.
In 2024, UNICEF will continue working with country offices, governments, other partners and (sub)regional entities to strengthen capacities for emergency preparedness, response, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Guided by the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF will continue to ensure humanitarian support for refugee and migrant populations. Under leadership of host governments, to safeguard the rights of children and families on the move along the Mediterranean and Western Balkans routes, UNICEF will fill critical gaps in specialized services and strengthen national/local capacities, advocating for children’s rights, aligning policy reforms at national, regional and European Union level to international norms. Specific actions will include support to improved procedures for determining best interests of children, ending child immigration detention, ensuring safe relocating unaccompanied and separated children to European Union Member States, and enhancing access to essential services and capacity building for first responders. Efforts will also address preparedness for and support priority, emerging needs of current Afghan refugees and affected host communities as well as support reintegration of families repatriated from conflict zones. In 2024, investments in preparedness will advance risk assessments, anticipatory action, and strengthen systems to be prepared to deliver inclusive, gender-informed, child-sensitive humanitarian responses that conform with global standards. This will entail providing emergency preparedness and response training to front-line responders, pre-positioning supplies and ensuring alignment of national emergency preparedness and response with global frameworks. Interventions will focus on mitigating and responding to sudden and slow-onset emergencies, triggered by climate-induced hazards, conflict, pandemics and potential migrant and refugee influx. Working with authorities and communities, UNICEF will enhance capacities for and advocacy on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, strengthen risk-informed programming and reinforce linkages between humanitarian and development programming. Priorities will include advancing shock-responsive social protection, promoting safety of children and education personnel in schools and empowering children and youth. UNICEF and partners will engage to enhance child-sensitive, cross-border preparedness and response. The capacity of regional rapid response mechanism will be enhanced; monitoring systems and knowledge management aligned across countries; and supply and logistics capacity augmented to facilitate timely procurement, warehousing and delivery services.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Europe and Central Asia; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.