UNICEF in emergencies

Whenever there is a crisis, UNICEF strives to reach children to uphold their dignity & resilience, and ensure their rights & needs are at the heart of any response

A child with a doll sitting at a refugee and migrant transit centre in Tabanovce
UNICEF/2016/Georgiev

The challenge

Since our very beginning – from the very first delivery of emergency supplies of food, clothing and hygiene products to children in Yugoslavia in 1947 - through to recent support to children on the move during the European Refugee and Migrant crisis - UNICEF has been on the ground to meet children’s immediate needs during times of crisis.

Emergencies threaten a child's sense of security

As well as the immediate threats to their survival, emergencies threaten children’s longer-term mental health and well-being. A crisis can threaten children’s sense of security – a fundamental part of childhood – particularly when they see and experience things no child should experience. They become vulnerable to exploitation, violence and abuse, while their future prospects are disrupted by the loss of education, health care and economic opportunities.

Where ever they are, where ever they are from, children are children first

UNICEF’s long history of supporting Government led efforts during times of crisis includes support after the 1963 earthquake devastated Skopje and support to refugee children who fled to the country from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and later during the Kosovo crisis in 1999.

In 2015 through to 2017, UNICEF was on the ground in Gevgelija and Tabanovce working with partners to support and protect refugee and migrant children transiting or stranded in the country on their way to Europe.  Today, we are supporting system strengthen efforts to ensure the country has robust protection and disaster prevention systems in place to meet possible emergency situations in the future.

The solution

During times of crisis, UNICEF does all it can to uphold children’s dignity and resilience, and ensure their rights and needs are at the heart of any response.

Together with our partners, we strive to reach every child, to meet their immediate needs to safety, protection, health care, adequate nutrition and education.

We provide needed supplies, establish child friendly spaces to provide psychosocial support and access to learning when education is interrupted. We also provide technical assistance to strengthen support and protection for unaccompanied and children separated from families, as well as to strengthen the capacity of front line workers, including health workers, social workers and NGO staff so that the best interest of children always comes first.  We also support child-centred disaster risk reduction to prevent or mitigate humanitarian emergencies by reducing the impact of natural hazards.

We advocate and raise awareness to ensure that no matter where they are, or where they are from children are seen as children first, and that their rights are protected!