75 years of engagement in and with Europe, but no time to celebrate!

Brussels, October 15, 2021 – In her meetings with the institutions of the European Union this week, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Charlotte Petri Gornitza welcomed the new EU strategy on the rights of the child – the very first EU document clearly positioning children’s rights in EU external and internal policies and actions. UNICEF welcomes the rapid and unreserved commitment to the strategy of a large majority of EU Member States and invites other EU Member States to join.

UNICEF and the EU will join forces for immediate and effective implementation, at national, regional and global levels. UNICEF’s new Partnership Strategy for Europe aims to further strengthen our engagement in and with Europe for the benefit of one billion of the most vulnerable children by 2030.

In her meetings with Commissioners, Members of the European Parliament and EU Member States, Ms Petri Gornitzka highlighted the suffering of millions of children in multiple crises today. She reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to stay and deliver, and if necessary, to step up our aid. Ms. Petri Gornitzka stressed that children should continue to receive all the assistance possible, even in the most complex environments, such as Afghanistan.

The European Union plays a key role for children, including as a global champion in maintaining education, including in emergencies. Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and Janez Lenarčič reiterated the commitment of at least 10% of development funding and humanitarian aid to the education of girls and boys.

Regarding mental health, the most recent UNICEF report on the situation of children in the world highlights a worsening mental health situation, including among European children. The report cites suicide as the second leading cause of death in Europe among young people aged 15 to 19. Only road accidents claim more victims in this age group.

At a high-level event to launch this report, the young people, with Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians; European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides; Member of the European Parliament, Maria Walsh, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Mental Health and Well-Being in the European Parliament; and Ms. Gornitzka discussed youth perspectives and solutions presenting promising approaches to address child and youth mental health challenges.

“In 1946, UNICEF was created to respond to the immense suffering of children in Europe, resulting from World War II. 75 years later, billions of children have benefited and continue to benefit from UNICEF assistance around the world, but now is not the time to celebrate, ”said Petri Gornitzka. “A bold and effective commitment to children’s rights is more important than ever: in the EU and with the EU for the world. We look forward to maintaining our strong partnership on children’s rights in national, regional and international agendas.

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