Jennifer LeeÂ is an intern at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Program Office.
Recently, we at the U.S. Fund were visited by colleagues who are from a region thatâ€™s perhaps less commonly associated with UNICEF: Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS). I was excited to learn about the situation for children in this regionÂ andÂ about the work UNICEFÂ does.
The CEE/CIS is one of the newerâ€”and lesser knownâ€”areasÂ with UNICEF programs.Â Comprised of 22 countries, thisÂ part of the world is incredibly diverse, with varying levels of development.Â After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, CEE/CIS experienced great progress. More recently, however, the region sadly saw a reversal of these gains. Much of this was attributed to the legacy and collapse of Soviet structures.Â
You canÂ find out what UNICEF is doing in this areaÂ and meet our visitorsâ€”UNICEFâ€™s Deputy Regional DirectorÂ and Country Representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Georgiaâ€”inÂ the video below.
During this visit it became clear to meÂ how difficultÂ life isÂ for children in this region. In 2010, CEE/CIS had the highest number of polio cases in the world, and itâ€™s the only region where rates of HIV/AIDS infections are still increasing.Â In terms of education, 13.6 million children and adolescents are currently out of school!Â A staggering 46% of students who complete their secondary education donâ€™t have the basic skills needed to function in the world.Â These areÂ just someÂ examples where health, education, and other systems areÂ simply not functioning for children.Â
Since 1989, UNICEF has been working with partners in CEE/CIS to ensure a better and more protected start to life for children.Â One of UNICEFâ€™s greatest successes has been the de-institutionalization of children from state-run orphanages into family environments.Â Other successes include promoting inclusive education for children with disabilities, and the early detection and prevention of disabilities in children. We’ve also created public-private partnerships to address malnutrition, and helped develop early childhood centers in rural, hard-to-reach areas. I was so glad to learnÂ that in this part of the world, too, children are getting the help they need.