Serbian Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and UNICEF in fight against COVID-19

20 April 2020
Ministar Đorđević i direktorka UNICEF-a Ređina de Dominićis
UNICEF Srbija/2020

Belgrade, 20 April 2020 – The Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Zoran Djordjevic, and UNICEF Representative in Serbia, Regina De Dominicis, discussed ways to help children and the most vulnerable families in Serbia during the fight against the novel coronavirus.

In order to better protect children without parental care from COVID-19, UNICEF has provided hygiene kits for 19 institutions in Serbia, whose delivery will start on 22 April.

In addition, the provision of hygiene kits for more than 4,000 foster families in Serbia is underway and they will be distributed in the coming period.

Minister Djordjevic thanked UNICEF for the donations and stressed that this is just one segment of the assistance which UNICEF and the Ministry are providing.

“UNICEF’s support, as well as the personal efforts of Ms. Regina De Dominicis, in securing assistance for our children is of the utmost importance. It is vital now that we are socially responsible and exert maximum efforts to help those most vulnerable, particularly our youngest citizens,” said Minister Djordjevic.

The Minister informed Ms. De Dominicis about the telephone helpline for children, women and parenting, a national service that has been active for 15 years and which plays an especially important role during the COVID-19 emergency. The service provides 24/7 phone counselling services for the entire territory of Serbia. It is a private, confidential, and free of charge service for children and adolescents, but also for adults concerned about their children.

“During the state of emergency, children and adolescents have been calling to seek information related to the novel coronavirus, about isolation and the consequences of the disease. They’ve also called to share their concerns about schooling and the uncertainty they feel about the continuity of their education – how they will be graded, how they can enrol into another school, how to finalize their homework, etc. They have shared that they are stressed about not being able to spend time with their peers, about spending all their time with parents, and sometimes about the increased tensions within their families. Fewer calls related to peer violence have been noticed, which is not surprising given the current situation,” Minister Djordjevic said.

UNICEF Representative in Serbia commended this type of support and said that the Ministry led by Djordjevic has good mechanisms to assist children and youth.

“I congratulate the Ministry for the measures undertaken in response to COVID-19 and the protection of the most vulnerable segments of the population. Now, it is important to monitor the consequences of this health crisis on the social protection sector and to identify ways for rapid assistance to families, especially those who are exposed to multiple risks,” said Regina De Dominicis.     

The meeting concluded with an agreement - that the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and UNICEF, in association with the Ministry of European Integration, will jointly apply for IPA funds to help the most vulnerable families and children after the state of emergency has ended.

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