There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives across all countries and communities. It has caused wide-ranging social and economic effects, affected people’s ability to engage with friends and family and led to a health crisis.
The pandemic has also deepened pre-existing vulnerabilities of children with disabilities and children living in poverty. In particular, the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on children has had severe effects on social welfare, health, education and nutrition.
In 2021, the European Union and UNICEF launched a two-year initiative to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable children and families in the Western Balkans and in Turkey. It aims to strengthen national health, education, early childhood development and child protection systems to ensure continuity in the provision of core services for vulnerable children and their families in the immediate and long-term recovery from COVID-19.
The funding allocated for this regional initiative is part of the EU’s assistance package for the Western Balkans in response to COVID-19, which currently exceeds €3.3 billion.