Countries in Europe and Central Asia, which are prone to multiple risks (i.e., natural disasters, civil unrest, conflict and displacements), have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To date, the region has recorded nearly 1.2 million cases and 26,500 deaths.2
Given the significant impacts that the pandemic is having on the health, social and economic well-being of children, dedicated efforts, capacities and resources are needed to build resilience and enhance preparedness and response.
The UNICEF Europe and Central Asia Regional Office will support governments and partners to enhance capacities for child-focused disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness and early emergency response. UNICEF will also provide targeted, multisector support to address and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on children and families.
UNICEF is requesting US$7.7 million for disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response; and US$64.3 million to respond to COVID-19. Nineteen countries are directly covered by this regional appeal.1
Children in Europe and Central Asia are exposed to multiple risks: natural hazards, displacement, civil unrest, armed conflict, climateinduced disasters and disease outbreaks. Earthquakes are a common and dominant threat. Much of the region is in an active seismic zone: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are among the 10 countries with the highest levels of earthquake risk globally8 and earthquakes have recently impacted Albania (2019, 6.4 magnitude, 2,000 injured, 14,000 displaced)9 and Turkey (2020, 6.8 magnitude, 1,607 injured).10 Europe and Central Asia is also prone to flooding, landslides and mudslides, all of which are exacerbated by climate change and environmental degradation. In May, Uzbekistan faced a major flood triggered by a catastrophic dam collapse (90,000 displaced).11 In June, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine were impacted by torrential flooding, and Kyrgyzstan experienced severe mudflows. Protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine is affecting 500,000 children.12 The escalation of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has resulted in civilian casualties, including children. Over 130,000 people have been displaced and at least 10 children have been killed.13 Turkey hosts the world's largest refugee population, including 1.6 million children.14 Southeast Europe remains a transit route for migrants and refugees.15 The unresolved status of disputed territories such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh limits humanitarian access. The conflict in Afghanistan may lead to new refugee flows into Tajikistan, while border clashes in undemarcated territories put people in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at risk of displacement and service disruption. Protests have erupted in eastern Europe, primarily in response to electoral outcomes and COVID-19-related socioeconomic hardships.16 Countries in the region continue to report measles cases, with Kazakhstan, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan reporting the highest number of cases between July 2019 and July 2020.17 Given the range of risks facing women and children, particularly the most vulnerable, these populations are increasingly facing poor health care, inadequate nutrition, school dropout, violence, exploitation and abuse.