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09/16/2020
Precious support in the game of life
https://www.unicef.org/eca/stories/precious-support-game-life
Thanks to funding from the European Union ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative, UNICEF works to ensure that all refugee and migrant children in Bosnia and Herzegovina have access to primary health care, including paediatric services and, in the case of 10-year old Maisa, a vital pair of glasses. “I will wear these glasses all the time. I hope I won't lose them during the next ‘game’", says 10-year-old Maisa.* In Maisa’s world, the word "game" does not mean playing with her friends. It is the slang she uses to describe the attempts she and her family – originally from Iran – have made to cross the border from Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Union in search of a more a promising future. To date, all of their attempts have failed. But they will keep trying. Maisa is at the opticians in Cazin, trying to decide which eyeglasses suit her best, having been brought here previously by a team from UNICEF and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), with funding from the EU’s ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative, to have her eyes tested by an ophthalmologist. Trying on glasses while wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is an additional challenge, making it difficult for her to judge how the glasses look. Her dad, Zerin*, helps her choose and she is delighted with the purple-framed glasses that will come ‘home’ with her to the Sedra reception centre in Bihać. A pair of glass might seem like a small thing, but for Maisa, this is a joyous moment that will enhance her view of the world around her. Human lives are at stake in the game played by Maisa and her family. She has endured so many challenges since she left her native Tehran a year ago. At the time, she still had multifocal glasses that were suitable for treating her strabismus. However, the unpredictable life on the migrant route meant that Maisa lost her glasses long before the family arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her new glasses will allow her to continue her treatment for strabismus and help repair her damaged vision. Maisa at the pediatric clinic Maisa at the pediatric clinic of the Sedra Reception Center, her medical examination before heading off to the optical shop to get new eyeglasses. Back at the Sedra reception centre, Maisa talks about her hopes. She can't explain exactly why she wants her wanderings on the European continent to end happily in England, but maybe the staff of the reception centre are partly responsible for that: "They teach me English and thanks to them, I speak better because I want to be able to express myself clearly” she says to her Farsi translator, who helps to enhance communication between children like Maisa and local health services. The family’s attempts to cross the border to find a better life somewhere in the north of Europe have taken their toll on Maisa’s education. Nevertheless, her English flows with such ease and eloquence that one almost forgets she is sitting in the reception centre’s modest and crumbling paediatric clinic. She could be doing her medical examination before enrolling in a prestigious international school. The healthcare professionals at the Sedra clinic cannot estimate exactly how many children it is serving at the moment, as children so often go to ‘games’ with their families. Some return, some don’t, and new children arrive, with different health issues, of different ages and from different backgrounds. The reception centre is occupied mostly by families with children, so there has been a clear need for paediatric services for a long time. Maisa entering the pediatric clinic Maisa entering the pediatric clinic of the Sedra Reception center, where along with her medical check-ups she is practicing her English skills and conversing with the medical workers. According to its team of paediatricians, children most often come to the clinic for general health examinations, or because of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Babies are also taken care of, in addition to examinations, therapies and dressing services. If the outpatient clinic can’t provide the care that is needed, children are referred to the Bihać Cantonal Hospital or the Cazin Health Center. And it is thanks to this referral system, supported by the ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative, that Maisa was referred to the ophthalmologist. In total, more than 750 children were helped by the paediatric clinic between January and September 2020. "Thanks to the support of the EU ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative, and the work of the DRC and our partners working within reception centres, the quality and number of services provided to children in need of health care have increased significantly since we founded the pediatric units in Sedra and Borići”, says Amila Madžak, Education officer at the UNICEF office in Bihać. “This has had a positive impact on individuals and families, and on migrant communities, as well as on wider public health. Help is also provided for unaccompanied children living in the reception centres in Bira and Miral. In addition to basic services, the paediatric care on offer also includes immunization services, systematic examinations, ophthalmological and dental services, consultations, training and coaching for children and adults. We also went through the first cycle of immunization with 500 children in the USC, and we are continuing with the next cycle in the Una Sana Canton, as well as in Sarajevo Canton." Fortunately, Maisa's problem was much easier to solve than many other health problems faced by the children of migrants, refugees and by unaccompanied minors. For many of them, this is the end of the road, with no prospect of going any further. And going further is what Maisa has been dreaming of since embarking on this unpredictable journey: the London rain, the British accent and the ability to use her eyes to their full potential.   *Names changed to protect identities. This story is part of the Project Strengthening Refugee and Migrant Children’s Health Status in Southern and South Eastern Europe, Co-funded by the Health Programme of the European Union (the ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative). Logo The content of this article represents the views of the author(s) only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.
05/04/2020
With financial support from the European Union UNICEF launches the ‘RM Child-Health’ project to strengthen vulnerable refugee and migrant children’s health
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/financial-support-european-union-unicef-launches-rm-child-health-project-strengthen
– Under the Health Programme of the European Union, the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety has committed a project grant to  UNICEF to support work ensuring refugee and migrant children and their families have access to quality health care and accurate health information in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain, Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia. Refugee and migrant children and their families often have more health-related risks and face a number of barriers accessing quality health care. Many children and families also live with severe emotional distress due to the trauma of fleeing home, undertaking dangerous journeys and experiencing abuse and exploitation, including sexual and gender-based violence. The global COVID19 pandemic further exacerbates these health challenges.  “With the ongoing pandemic, protecting every child and adult’s right to health care and accurate heath information is paramount. This collaboration with the EU Health Programme will help ensure the most vulnerable refugee and migrant children will have better access to primary healthcare services, psychosocial support as well as violence prevention and response services,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refuge and Migrant Response in Europe, Ms. Afshan Khan. The project ‘RM Child-Health’ will help improve the health of refugee and migrant children by improving their access to life-saving immunizations, mental health and psychosocial support, gender-based violence prevention and response activities as well as maternal and newborn health care and nutrition support. Information materials on health-related risks and services available for refugee and migrant populations will be created and shared. Medical interpreters and cultural mediators will be deployed to support communication between children and families and health care providers. The project ‘RM Child-Health’ will also support training programmes so frontline health care workers can better respond to the specific needs of refugee and migrant children and their families. In parallel, national health authorities will benefit from technical support to develop, update and improve the implementation of health policies and address bottlenecks in national health systems that currently prevent refugee and migrant children from accessing services. Refugee mother feeding her baby at ADRA community centre in Belgrade. UNICEF/UNI220342/Pancic
05/12/2020
UNICEF appeals for $1.6 billion to meet growing needs of children impacted by COVID-19 pandemic
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/unicef-appeals-16-billion-meet-growing-needs-children-impacted-covid-19-pandemic
 – UNICEF is appealing for US$1.6 billion to support its humanitarian response for children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, up from $651.6 million requested in a similar appeal late March. This increase reflects the devastating socioeconomic consequences of the disease and families’ rising needs. As the outbreak enters its fifth month, the costs for supplies, shipment and duty of care are increasing dramatically. “The pandemic is a health crisis which is quickly becoming a child rights crisis,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Schools are closed, parents are out of work and families are under growing strain. As we begin to reimagine what a post-COVID world would look like, these funds will help us respond to the crisis, recover from its aftermath, and protect children from its knock-on effects.” Access to essential services like health care and routine immunization has already been compromised for hundreds of millions of children, which could lead to a significant increase in child mortality. Meanwhile, the mental health and psychosocial impact of restricted movement, school closures and subsequent isolation are likely to intensify already high levels of stress, especially for vulnerable children. According to a UNICEF analysis, some 77 per cent of children under the age of 18 worldwide, or 1.8 billion, are living in one of the 132 countries with some form of movement restrictions in place due to COVID-19.  Risk factors for violence, abuse and neglect are on the rise for children living under restricted movement and socio-economic decline. Girls and women are at increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence. In many cases, refugee, migrant and internally displaced children, as well as returnees, are experiencing reduced access to services and protection and increasing exposure to xenophobia and discrimination. “We have seen what the pandemic is doing to countries with developed health systems and we are concerned about what it would do to countries with weaker systems and fewer available resources,” said Fore.  UNICEF is focusing its response to the pandemic on countries with existing humanitarian crises – working both to prevent transmission and mitigate the collateral impacts on children, women and vulnerable populations, especially around access to health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and protection. UNICEF has so far received US $215 million in support of its response to the pandemic. Additional funding will help UNICEF build upon results already achieved which include:   Over 1.67 billion people reached with COVID-19 prevention messaging around hand washing and cough and sneeze hygiene; Over 12 million people reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies; UNICEF has shipped more than 6.6 million gloves, 1.3 million surgical masks, 428,000 N95 respirators, 291,000 gowns, 13,000 goggles, 63,500 face shields, 200 oxygen concentrators and 34,500 diagnostic tests for COVID-19, in support of 52 countries as they respond to the pandemic;  Nearly 80 million children reached with distance or home-based learning;  Over 10.9 million children and women receiving essential healthcare services in UNICEF supported facilities; and Over 830,000 children, parents and caregivers provided with community-based mental health and psychosocial support. ###   A child wearing a face mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic watches water being poured into a container in Caracas. UNICEF/UNI317845/ Hernandez/AFP
09/21/2020
Oasis of health and joy
https://www.unicef.org/eca/stories/oasis-health-and-joy
"I want to be a photographer, and you know that the most valuable tool for any photographer is their eyes," says 17-year-old Ferhat* as he contentedly nods to his reflection in the mirror, adjusting his glasses. It has been three years since he left his home in Tehran together with his parents and younger sister in search of a better life in Europe, and after years spent crossing different borders, he is no longer sure where the most serious game for a better life will take them. Game is the word that migrants use as a synonym for an attempt of crossing the border. Ferhat is currently residing in the temporary reception centre Sedra with his family. Last year they were all staying at a reception centre in Sarajevo, and according to him: wherever life brings them, everything will be fine as long as they are together. With the support from UNICEF, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) staff, Ferhat came to the opticians shop in Cazin. "After they took away all my personal belongings at the border, including the glasses, the doctor at the Sedra Pediatric Clinic estimated that I needed an ophthalmologist's examination and a new set of glasses. Next I was assigned an appointment, a team from DRC and UNICEF came to pick me up and took me to the ophthalmologist, and when my dioptre was determined on examination, they also took me to an optician's shop to choose the appropriate frame. Today, after a procedure that lasted several days, I received my new glasses. "Thank you to everyone who helped me and everyone who helped my family, and to others from the centre, for their work and desire to fulfil basic human needs even in such conditions," says Ferhat. Refugree and migrant children take part in a dental workshop Refugree and migrant children take part in a dental workshop Unfortunately his family members were frequent patients of the medical centres whose services are provided by UNICEF and DRC through DG Health funding: his mother's hand healed only a few days ago when her cast was removed - she had previously broken her arm while trying to cross the border and his father is a regular patient given his continuously high blood pressure. During his previous attempt to cross the border Ferhat damaged his old, precious glasses that he has worn for the last four years - ever since doctors discovered his hereditary vision problem. He still has the right to use the services of a children's clinic, which, in addition to basic pediatric care services include immunization services, systematic examinations, ophthalmological check-ups, dental services and consultations for parents. Sedra and Borići are classic family camps: at the time of our visit, 213 people were accommodated in Sedra - of which 53 were children, and 51 families with children were accommodated in Borići. To make everyday life more tolerable for children in reception centres, UNHCR cooperates with Save the Children, Médecins de Monde (MDM), Church World Service (CWS), World Vision, and centres for social work Bihać, Cazin, Velika Kladuša, Ključ and Hadžići; and there are frequent activities for the youngest that partner organizations regularly carry out with the intention of entertaining, but also educating children in the mentioned centres. The focus of this workshop is dental hygiene, where the children are learning all the practices and putting their skills to the test with a demonstration model. The focus of this workshop is dental hygiene, where the children are learning all the practices and putting their skills to the test with a demonstration model. During our stay in the reception centre in Borići, there was a dental workshop organized in partnership with the local polyclinic Muminović. Through a series of games, children had the opportunity to learn how to properly maintain oral hygiene, how to properly brush their teeth, who to contact in case of dental problems, and at the end of the workshop, they were all given hygiene packages containing basic dental hygiene supplies. Their excitement was not disturbed by the mandatory protective masks which prevented them from trying out the contents of their hygiene packages right away. Additionally, because everyone had to wear masks indoors, the associates of the Muminović polyclinic brought out demonstration models with which the children could practically test the knowledge acquired during the workshop. Families with children are accommodated in two temporary reception centres (Borići and Sedra) in the Una-Sana Canton (USC), and the Sarajevo reception centre Ušivak and unaccompanied minors are accommodated in all five reception centres (including the Bira and Miral centres). Currently, there are about 4,000 refugees/migrants accommodated in four TRCs in the USC area, including about 500 children, unaccompanied children and children separated from their parents. Thanks to funding from the EU Health Programme (DG Health), UNICEF BIH ensures that all refugee and displaced children have access to primary health care, which in BiH, includes pediatric services as well.   *Name changed to protect the identity of a minor
12/03/2020
UNICEF issues record US$6.4 billion emergency funding appeal to reach more than 190 million children impacted by humanitarian crises and the COVID-19 pandemic
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/unicef-issues-record-us64-billion-emergency-funding-appeal-reach-more-190-million
 – UNICEF today issued its largest ever emergency funding appeal for US$6.4 billion to reach 300 million people, including more than 190 million children, with essential support and services through the end of 2021. This appeal is a 35 per cent increase over funds requested for 2020, and a reflection of expanding humanitarian needs globally amidst protracted crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.  “When a devastating pandemic coincides with conflict, climate change, disaster and displacement, the consequences for children can be catastrophic,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Today we are facing a child rights emergency in which COVID-19 and other crises are combining to deprive children of their health and wellbeing. This unprecedented situation demands a similarly unprecedented response. We are urging our donors to join us so that together we can help the world’s children get through this darkest of times and prevent a lost generation.”   The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives of children, particularly the most vulnerable. Routine immunization services for children have been disrupted in more than 60 countries, while nearly a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19 school closures. Economic instability is disrupting essential services and making it harder for families to make ends meet and increasing the risk of domestic and gender-based violence. Meanwhile, new humanitarian crises emerged in 2020. The conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has left 2.8 million people in urgent need of assistance. In Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, more than 425,000 people, including 191,000 children, have been displaced. Reports of killings, abductions, recruitment and use of children as soldiers are on the rise. In addition, powerful storms devastated vulnerable communities in Central America and East Asia (namely the Philippines, Viet Nam and Cambodia), affecting 2.6 million and 13.4 million children respectively. At the same time, the pandemic has worsened protracted emergencies in countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. This coming March will mark 10 years of conflict in Syria and six years of conflict in Yemen, leaving nearly 17 million children in need of humanitarian assistance in these two countries alone. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years, threatening food security, increasing water scarcity, forcing people from their homes and increasing the risk of conflict and public health emergencies. An estimated 36 million children, more than ever before, are living in displacement due to conflict, violence and disaster. Malnutrition among children is on the rise in countries around the world.     As part of its Humanitarian Action for Children which sets out the agency’s 2021 appeal, UNICEF plans to reach: 149 million women and girls and 7.4 million children with disabilities; 6.3 million children with treatment for severe acute malnutrition; 27.4 million children with measles vaccinations; 45 million people with access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene; 19.2 million children and caregivers with access to mental health and psychosocial support; 17 million children and women with access to gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions; 93.3 million children with formal or non-formal education, including early learning; and 9.6 million households with cash assistance. As part of its response to COVID-19, UNICEF is putting its massive supply and procurement operation behind rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, with a focus on equity to reach the most vulnerable children and families. This work includes coordinating with major global airlines and freight providers to step up efforts to deliver vaccines to more than 92 countries around the world as soon as vaccines become available. The agency is also co-leading efforts to help governments’ readiness to deploy the vaccines – including by prepositioning syringes, mapping out cold chain equipment, and tackling misinformation. The top five appeals by funding requirements for 2021 are for Syrian refugees (US$1.0 billion), Yemen (US$576.9 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo (US$384.4 million), Syria (US$330.8 million) and Venezuela (US$201.8 million).  Putting national and local organizations at the center of humanitarian operations is a key strategy in UNICEF’s humanitarian response. Key results in 2020 were made possible by UNICEF’s partnerships, including with humanitarian country teams, UN agencies, civil society and non-governmental organizations, national and local responders and resource partners. Notable results include: 1.5 million children treated for severe acute malnutrition; 3.4 million children vaccinated against measles; 3 billion people reached with COVID-19 messaging on prevention and access to services; 1.8 million health care workers provided with personal protective equipment; 45.5 million households benefiting from new or additional social assistance measures provided by governments to respond to COVID-19 with UNICEF support; 2.5 million COVID-19 test kits provided to 56 countries. ### Multimedia materials available here Download the 2021 UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children Mina, 5, happily carries her box of winter clothes UNICEF Iraq/2020/Anmar
02/01/2021
Strengthening the implementation of health policies
https://www.unicef.org/eca/stories/strengthening-implementation-health-policies
The initiative also promotes and supports multi-disciplinary approaches and teams to address the complex causes of health problems among refugee and migrant children – from trauma, anxiety and over-crowded conditions, to lack of hygiene facilities and immunization. As a result, support from the ‘RM Child-health’ initiative builds trust between refugee and migrant families and health providers. At the Centre for refugees and migrants near Bela Palanka in south-eastern Serbia, for example, the needs of refugee and migrant women have shaped the development of the Community Centre run by ADRA, with its Mother and Baby Corner for women with infants. Here, women can take part in language classes, sports activities and, crucially, in workshops about their own health and rights. “ The most important thing is that all the advice from our doctor is in line with their economic circumstances and current living situation [in Reception centres],” explains social worker Andja Petrovic. “The advice is tailored to their life and I think they particularly like that, because they can see that their situation is acknowledged. Because when they go to a doctor [in other facilities], they get advice that they can’t follow because they don’t have the living conditions for it.” Also in Serbia, funding from the ‘RM Child-health Initiative’ supports work by UNICEF and the Institute of Mental Health that looks beyond the provision of basic health care to assess the scale and nature of substance abuse among refugee and migrant communities. This cutting-edge field research will guide the development of materials and capacity building specifically for health and community workers who are in regular contact with young refugees and migrants, helping these workers to identify and tackle substance abuse by connecting children and youth to support services. As one researcher involved in the research commented: “Most of those children have spent several years without a home or any sense of stability. They can't make a single plan about the future since everything in their life is so uncertain. I can't begin to imagine how frightening that is.” By building greater rapport between frontline workers and children, and by equipping those workers with the support, skills and resources they need, the ‘RM Child-health’ initiative is helping to transform health policies into health practice. This vital work has been particularly crucial in 2020, as frontline workers have had to confront – and adapt to – the greatest public health crisis in living memory: the COVID-19 pandemic. Logo This story is part of the Project ‘Strengthening Refugee and Migrant Children’s Health Status in Southern and South Eastern Europe’, Co-funded by the Health Programme of the European Union (the ‘RM Child-Health’ initiative).It represents the views of the author only and is her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.
10/18/2017
Refugee and migrant children in Europe
https://www.unicef.org/eca/refugee-and-migrant-children
People have always migrated to flee from trouble or to find better opportunities. Today, more people are on the move than ever, trying to escape from climate change, poverty and conflict, and aided as never before by digital technologies. Children make up one-third of the world’s population, but almost half of the world’s refugees: nearly 50 million children have migrated or been displaced across borders.   We work to prevent the causes that uproot children from their homes While working to safeguard refugee and migrant children in Europe, UNICEF is also working on the ground in their countries of origin to ease the impact of the poverty, lack of education, conflict and insecurity that fuel global refugee and migrant movements. In every country, from Morocco to Afghanistan, and from Nigeria to Iraq, we strive to ensure all children are safe, healthy, educated and protected.  This work accelerates and expands when countries descend into crisis. In Syria, for example, UNICEF has been working to ease the impact of the country’s conflict on children since it began in 2011. We are committed to delivering essential services for Syrian families and to prevent Syria's children from becoming a ‘ lost generation ’. We support life-saving areas of health , nutrition , immunization , water and sanitation, as well as education and child protection . We also work in neighbouring countries to support Syrian refugee families and the host communities in which they have settled.