UNICEF and the State Secretariat for Migration of the Swiss Confederation are expanding their cooperation for migrant children and families in Croatia

“All children, no matter who they are or why they leave home, have a right to thrive”

10 July 2023
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UNICEF Croatia Representative, Regina M. Castillo and Swiss State Secretary for Migration Christine Schraner Burgener

ZAGREB, July 14, 2023 –  The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) of the Swiss Confederation and UNICEF Office for Croatia are expanding their cooperation to support all children and families affected by migration and ensure they are adequately supported and integrated into Croatian society. This was confirmed during a two-day visit by Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener, Swiss State Secretary for Migration who signed an agreement with Ms. Regina Castillo, UNICEF Croatia Representative for a new two-year programme “Supporting protection and integration of children and families in migration in Croatia​”, funded by the Swiss Government. This funding is part of the Rapid Response Fund of the Second Swiss Contribution to selected EU Member States in the area of migration.

UNICEF ECARO and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) of the Swiss Confederation are currently implementing a joint programme "Supporting integration of refugee and migrant children in host EU countries" in six EU countries, including Croatia, as a response to the situation caused by the war in Ukraine.

Building up on the activities being carried out within the current joint programme, UNICEF Croatia and SEM now wish to ensure that all migrant children, adolescents and their families have their needs timely assessed and met. This should be achieved through strengthening capacities of professionals, ensuring access to community-based services, such as child protection, high-quality guardianship and family support services, early childhood intervention services, mental and psychological support, including helplines, integration in education systems, and introducing and strengthening policy frameworks. 

It is expected that the new programme will directly reach around 7.000 migrant children and their parents and caregivers, including more than 700 unaccompanied and separated children. Also, more than 800 professionals from different sectors will enhance their knowledge and strengthen capacities on provision of services to migrant children, adolescents and their families and caregivers and some 950 households will benefit from improved social transfers. Indirectly, the programme should reach over 15.000 Croatian students in elementary and high schools, 300 children (0-6 years) accessing early education and early childhood intervention services and 9.200 professionals in social welfare, interior, education, and health system.   

“We are glad to pursue our fruitful cooperation with UNICEF in order to cover the immediate needs of migrant children while contributing to the long-term strengthening of migration structures in Croatia” said State Secretary Christine Schraner Burgener. “Migration management concerns the whole Schengen community and Switzerland is therefore interested to continue its good work with Croatia in this context”, she added. “We want to support persons who have fled the war in Ukraine. At the same time, it is crucial to also support children and families from other regions as the number of arrivals in Croatia is significantly growing.” 

“We are grateful to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) for selecting Croatia as one of the 6 countries for a joint programme to support Ukrainian refugees at the end of 2022. The fact that UNICEF Croatia has now been selected as a partner for the new joint programme oriented to support all migrant children and caregivers, shows the trust that SEM has deposited in UNICEF’s expertise to deliver positive results for the most vulnerable children and their families. Together with the Government of Swiss Confederation, SEM and our national partners we wish to ensure that children affected by migration are increasingly protected and national systems become increasingly resilient and facilitate swifter and more effective support to children and caregivers in migration. It is our joint responsibility to create an enabling environment where all children, no matter who they are, why they left their homes or where they come from, have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop to lead fulfilling lives and thrive,”, said Regina Castillo, UNICEF Croatia Representative.


UNICEF Croatia is building both programmes (“Supporting integration of refugee and migrant children in host EU countries” and “Supporting protection and integration of children and families in migration in Croatia”) in cooperation with State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) of the Swiss Confederation and funded by Swiss Government, on its existing partnerships with national, sub-national and local partners and service providers to achieve results for children, adolescents and families.  


© UNICEF, 2023 “The information and views set out in this page are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Swiss-Europe Rapid Response Fund or UNICEF. Neither the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, Swiss-Europe Rapid Response Fund or UNICEF nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

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