75th anniversary marked by the opening of the exhibition and award “Friends of UNICEF”, people who have contributed significantly to work of UNICEF for children in Croatia.
Zagreb, 13 December 2021 – On the occasion of the 75th anniversary, UNICEF opened the exhibition “75 years of UNICEF in Croatia” at the National and University Library. Special awards were given to long-time UNICEF supporters, “Friends of UNICEF” who in many ways contribute to the success of UNICEF programs for children in Croatia.
UNICEF Ambassadors Bojana Gregorić Vejzović, Mirna Medaković Stepinac, Maja Vučić, Zlatan Stipišić Gibonni and Slaven Bilić received a special recognition for their long-term contribution to promoting children’s rights. Tennis player Marin Čilić, music diva Gabi Novak, Paralympic athlete Nataša Sobočan, corporate partners Kaufland Croatia and Arena Center, TV host Nevena Rendeli Vejzović, parents, children and youth involved in UNICEF programs are among those who received the “Friends of UNICEF” awards.
“UNICEF programs and activities are an important part of Croatian history. Our 75th anniversary is an opportunity to take a moment to remember everything that we have done for girls and boys in Croatia but also to thank all our friends, and there are many of them, who support us on our mission for every child. I would especially like to thank to our regular donors, Childhood Guardians, our corporate partners, our ambassadors, our partners from the non-governmental sector and associates from the Government and ministries that we work closely with. Let’s remember that only by working together we can ensure that every girl and boy in Croatia grow up smiling and knowing that a bright future is ahead of them,” said Regina M. Castillo, representative of UNICEF Office for Croatia at the anniversary event.
UNICEF was founded on December 11, 1946, to help children whose lives and futures were endangered after the Second World War, and one of the first shipments of UNICEF aid arrived in Croatia. Many achievements have marked the period from then until today, but we have singled out only a few:
- Significant investments in maternal and child health care have contributed to reducing high infant mortality after the World War II.
- Center for Mother and Child, today a children’s hospital in Klaićeva, was founded with the support of UNICEF.
- UNICEF played a key role in the development of modern dairy in Croatia Milk was distributed free of charge in schools, and for many children, it was the only meal of the day.
- UNICEF provided the equipment to start production of penicillin in Croatia.
- In 1971, a major action of the WHO and UNICEF eradicated malaria in Croatia.
- During the Homeland War in 1991, UNICEF was the first international organization in Croatia to provide medicines, psychosocial support, assistance to displaced persons and refugees, and after the war, we educated children on mine prevention.
- After the war, UNICEF focused on other important areas of child protection and development through campaigns “Stop Violence Among Children”, “Every Child Needs a Family” and “The First Three are the most important.”
- In recent years, UNICEF supported the establishment of the Human Milk Bank, which has raised premature babies health care in Croatia to the highest level.
- In emergency situations, such as floods, the refugee crisis and now the pandemics and earthquakes, UNICEF is in the field, providing urgent supplies and support to the most vulnerable families to protect children and children rights.
- In 2020 UNICEF provided a long-capacity data storage system to CARNET to support distance learning and have been continuously supporting provision of services and therapies for children with disabilities and their families in Sisak-Moslavina County, and psychosocial support to the most vulnerable families, professionals, and students since earthquakes.
- Through programs aimed at young people, we encourage the development of their media literacy and entrepreneurial skill to create the foundations for a successful future, both for young people and for the society.
- In Međimurje County, UNICEF carries out the pilot program “Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia,” funded by the European Union that is aimed at ending the cycle of deprivation and poverty of the most vulnerable children, primarily at children with disabilities, children growing up in difficult circumstances, and children of national minorities.
“In 75 years, UNICEF has gathered valuable experience and wisdom. We know that important changes do not happen overnight, but also that perseverance and tireless work for the youngest, do give results. There is a lot of work ahead of us, and we are ready to give our best and to continue the most important task of all, ensuring that every girl and every boy grow up with a smile on their faces, smile that sends an important message – that all their rights are fulfilled. That is our goal, which we will never give up”, said Regina M. Castillo, representative of UNICEF Office for Croatia at the anniversary event.
The exhibition “75 years of UNICEF in Croatia” is open during business hours to the National and University Library until 17 December 2021.