UNICEF works in 22 countries and territories1 in Europe and Central Asia Region (ECAR) and is present in Italy, supporting refugee and migrant populations. During the reporting period:
Since the start of the pandemic, UNICEF programmes across the region have reached over 177 million people with COVID-19 prevention and safety messages through online platforms and social media. Nearly 25 million children were supported with distance/home-based learning. 1.9 million children, parents and primary caregivers were provided with community based mental health and psychosocial support.
After easing containment measures in May and June, most countries experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases. On July 5, Kazakhstan became the world’s first country to impose a second nationwide lockdown. Almost all countries have reinstated restrictions on domestic travel, entry of international visitors, and non-essential business, with many enforcing wearing masks and social distancing.
By the end of the reporting period, countries with the highest increases included Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and several Balkan countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. At the same time, infection rates have declined in Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, North Macedonia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Ukraine, and have stabilized in Georgia.
Despite reporting no officially confirmed cases, Turkmenistan hosted a WHO mission from 6 to 15 July, which generated a recommendation for the country to take measures as if COVID-19 existed. Mask wearing, disinfection and temperaturetaking are now required at public venues, shopping and inter-regional transportation are suspended, and everyone has been encouraged to stay home.
UNICEF has been deeply engaged in consultations on re-opening of schools. With other UN agencies and government, UNICEF is developing (Albania, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Tajikistan) or has already shared (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania) guidance on requisite health, Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and WASH measures for children and teachers return to classrooms safely. Azerbaijan and Turkey will re-open classrooms in September and UNICEF is supporting the preparation of “Back to School” campaigns.
To intensify technical support for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and WASH in Health Care Facilities, UNICEF initiated a series of online training sessions in July, attended by over 70 health care practitioners, public health experts, key partners and UNICEF staff from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Sessions included knowledge sharing and discussions on hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), principles and applicability of standard precautions, environmental cleaning and disinfection, among others.
UNICEF ECAR’s Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal has been revised upwards to $149 million. The $16 million increase since 8 May reflects growing humanitarian needs and requirements for strengthened technical and coordination support. ECAR currently has a funding gap of nearly $107 million with needs most acutely felt in Bulgaria, Belarus, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia. Urgent needs are also unmet in Central Asia, where increasing numbers of new infections are placing additional pressures on the health system and on efforts to ensure the socioeconomic wellbeing of the most vulnerable children and families.