Support for the most vulnerable children and families during the coronavirus crisis
Thanks to UNICEF and its partners, more than 24,000 children and adults have received additional support during the coronavirus crisis
PODGORICA, 02 MARCH 2020 – The coronavirus crisis has impacted every child’s right to health, education and an adequate living standard, as well as every child’s right to be protected from violence, abuse and exploitation. To respond to this crisis of child rights, UNICEF and its partners from the international community and the private and civil sectors have joined forces with the government, centres for social welfare, schools, preschools and day-care centres for children with disabilities to help Montenegro provide the most vulnerable children and families with additional support. As a result, more than 24,000 children and adults have received critical support, including: additional cash transfers to help parents cover basic living costs, free hygiene packs, tablets, school supplies, preschool equipment, masks, psycho-social support and free legal aid.
UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander points out that, before the coronavirus crisis, one in three children in Montenegro were growing up in poverty and that, now, this number is likely to be even higher. Santander reminds of the moral responsibility to support the most vulnerable members of society, as solidarity is the foundational value of any functional society.
We are aware that poverty is not just a lack of income and, thus, we must complement cash transfers with other essential services and support. For this reason, we have joined partners from all sectors of society – the international community and the private and civil sectors – to support the government, schools, preschools, day-care centres for children with disabilities and centres for social welfare to provide social and child protection, education and health services to a larger number of vulnerable families during the crisis.
With financial support from the Danish Government, the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade through the NGO Group 484 and Telenor, UNICEF and its partners – the Red Cross, Centres for social welfare, the Parents Association, NGO Juventas, the Special Olympics, the Association of Youth with Disabilities and the associations of parents of children with disabilities: NARDOS, Nasa Inicijativa and Zracak nade – have distributed humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable ones in every municipality. Families and children were identified according to the information available at the centres for social welfare, schools, preschools, day-care centres for children with disabilities and civil society organizations. According to the UN Rapid Social Impact Assessment on COVID-19, the coronavirus crisis has affected, in particular, families with children with disabilities, children and young people without parental care, those already growing up in poverty, including Roma and Egyptian children, single-parent families, children in foster care, children in conflict with the law and those exposed to violence and neglect. Therefore, these groups have been prioritized for support.
As a result, thanks to the Danish Government, around 1,200 families have received one-off cash transfers from the centres for social welfare to cover basic living costs, such as for food, clothing, school supplies and rent. Thanks to the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade through NGO Group 484, more than 24,000 children with disabilities and their families and children and families from Roma and Egyptian communities obtained hygiene packs through the Red Cross, associations of parents of children with disabilities and day-care centers for children with disabilities. Close to 800 tablet computers supporting online learning were distributed to children with disabilities, children in foster care, children living in single parent households and children from Roma and Egyptian communities and those living in child care institutions with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade through NGO Group 484. Equipment needed for distance learning and free psycho-social support was provided for the girls and boys growing up in the Children’s Home in Bijela, with the support of the same donor and UNICEF. Thanks to Telenor, adolescents in the Ljubovic Centre for Children and Young People benefited from an IT lab that allowed them to access distance learning, as well as to enrol in non-formal educational programmes. Besides the school supplies, UNICEF distributed 40,000 masks to schools, while, through the Special Olympics, additional equipment and training were provided to preschools and families with children with disabilities to implement an inclusive sports programme at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the Association of Youth with Disabilities and the Parents Association supported parents and children in need to access free legal help and psycho-social support during the coronavirus crisis with the support of UNICEF and the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade through NGO Group 484
UNICEF will continue working with partners from all sectors of society to ensure that the most vulnerable children and families are heard and provided with support that best responds to their needs during the coronavirus crisis.