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UNICEF Celebrates 60 Years for Children

Skopje 11 December, 2006 - Six decades after its inception as a temporary relief agency, UNICEF is marking its 60th anniversary today, celebrating its many achievements on behalf of children all over the world.

Born from the ashes of World War II, UNICEF’s first mission was to provide milk, food, blankets and medicine to millions of European children left hungry, homeless and weakened by war. UNICEF’s very first supply shipment was actually for children of Yugoslavia.

Once the children of Europe were on their way to recovery, UNICEF broadened its mandate beyond European borders to help children suffering from poverty and illness throughout the world.  Ever since then UNICEF has been on an evolutionary journey, adapting to meet the needs of children in an ever-changing world.

Highlights of the 60th anniversary celebration in Skopje includes a reception at the Aleksandar Palace where a new UNICEF documentary, “Wake Up World” will be screened together with a photo exhibition capturing children’s views on health, education, and child care and protection issues.


In 2006, UNICEF marks its 60th year as the world’s leader for children, helping to build a world fit for children.  UNICEF works in 156 countries and territories, supporting child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.

The United Nations established UNICEF in 1946 to meet the emergency needs of children in post-war Europe and China and soon broadened its mandate to address the long-term needs of children and women in developing countries everywhere.  In 1965, UNICEF received the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. 

UNICEF looks towards the future, guided by the Millennium Development Goals.   Meeting these goals requires that all sectors of society ‘Unite for Children,’ which is the guiding philosophy of UNICEF’s efforts to achieve global health and development goals for the world’s children.


• Even though UNICEF opened its office in Skopje back in 1993, UNICEF’s history with the country dates back to the first days of its creation. UNICEF’s very first supply shipment, in August 1947, was actually for children of Yugoslavia.

•In the 50’s UNICEF worked with the government of Yugoslavia to improve the supply of milk throughout the country. UNICEF imported equipment to support the government’s national milk conservation plan – as a result, safe, wholesome milk was made available either free or at a very low cost for over 800,000 children and mothers.

• In 1957, UNICEF initiated the formation of National Institute for Mother  & Child Health in Skopje. At that time the child mortality rate was as high as 138.6 per thousand live births.

•In 1963, UNICEF supported relief efforts after the tragic earthquake in Skopje.

• In 1993 UNICEF was one of the first two UN agencies to open an office in the country after it became an independent state. Initially our work focused on providing emergency assistance to refugee children from the Bosnian crisis. After signing the Basic Cooperation Agreement (BCA) in 1994, UNICEF has provided both development and emergency assistance. 

 A snapshot of some of UNICEF’s work between 1994-2004:

o Procured all vaccines for tuberculosis, measles, mumps, rubella and polio and has contributed to rapid decrease in infant mortality.

o UNICEF’s baby-friendly hospitals initiative resulted in 28 – out of 29 – maternity departments certified and 90 per cent of all babies born each year delivered in Baby-Friendly Hospitals.

o UNICEF introduced the concept of inter-active learning and teaching in all elementary schools to provide child-centred learning environment.

o UNICEF provided emergency assistance to children and families during the Kosovo crisis and the internal conflict in 2001.

• 2005-2009 UNICEF is currently country programme contributes to the realisation of the commitments set out in the Millennium Development Goals to achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS. It also supports the World Fit For Children goals in promoting children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation, especially among the socially excluded and vulnerable. The programme has four components that are inter-linked and mutually supportive: Social Policy, Monitoring & Evaluation, Early Childhood Development and Education, Child Protection and HIV/AIDS Prevention and Young People’s Health.




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