© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0718/Volpe

A displaced child sits with an elderly woman in a tent during the 2008 conflict in Georgia. Natural disasters, the global economic downturn and ongoing political instability in many countries in the region continue to affect children and women.

Critical Issues for Children and Women

The Central and Eastern Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) region is prone to natural hazards, especially earthquakes, floods, avalanches, mudslides, drought and forest fires, all of which are impacting livelihoods and social infrastructure, especially in crowded urban areas.  Particularly vulnerable are Central Asia, South Caucasus and Turkey, which lie in well-known seismic zones and are thus susceptible to major earthquakes.  In countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, an earth tremor or quake could cause dislocation and displacement of uranium wastes stored underground, thereby posing a serious health risk to the people living in those areas. Also, the recent global economic crisis is increasing poverty and reducing access to social services, especially among vulnerable women and children in the many transitional states in the region. 

Planned Humanitarian Action for 2010

UNICEF’s CEE/CIS Regional Office will focus on strengthening emergency preparedness and response capacity in UNICEF Offices and governments in the region through strategic partnerships and provision of technical support during emergencies.  The Regional Office will also work to improve coordination of the UNICEF-led Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Nutrition, Education and Child Protection Clusters and will continue to participate in the World Health Organization-led Health Cluster and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-led Protection Cluster.  As a recent member of the South Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Caucasus Group, UNICEF will further coordinate disaster risk reduction, especially in the context of climate change, with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, United Nations Development Programme/Bureau Crisis Prevention and Recovery and the World Meteorological Organization as partners. Following are the expected results of UNICEF emergency interventions:

Regional Surge Capacity: Based on previous experience, the CEE/CIS region will need to maintain and enhance a core group of staff with relevant language skills and expertise so as to be able to support country offices in the region effectively. Within 72 hours of an emergency, UNICEF emergency-trained staff from neighbouring country offices will be deployed to the emergency site of the affected country, in order to support implementation of the Core Commitments for Children.

Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning: Together with United Nations agencies, NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and government partners, UNICEF’s regional emergency team will focus on building preparedness capacity through training and emergency simulation exercises at the national level. UNICEF Offices and partners will also benefit from a new Early Warning–Early Action system that monitors potential emergencies as well as technical guidance in sectoral response, cluster approach modalities and business continuity planning.

Disaster Risk Reduction:  The disaster risk reduction programme in Central Asia will be expanded to other parts of the region, especially to the South Caucasus and possibly Moldova and Turkey, to improve disaster preparedness and risk reduction in these vulnerable areas.  Capacities at the country level will be upgraded through the training of UNICEF and partner staff and the sharing of information and lessons learnt among the different countries.

Summary of UNICEF Emergency Needs to fulfil
Core Commitments for Children for 2010
Sector US$
Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning 200,000
Regional Surge Capacity 250,000
Disaster Risk Reduction 400,000
Total 850,000