SOS Children’s Villages International is providing humanitarian aid to Croatia specifically targeted at children in the context of a struggling economy, high poverty rates and high unemployment levels.
In the wake of the war with the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia that lasted from 1991 to 1995, Croatia has struggled to recover from the decimation of its economic infrastructure. The six-year-long recession beginning in 2008 also contributed to Croatia’s weak economic structure.
Unemployment remains relatively high at 16.1 percent. The proportion of the population living at or below the national poverty line is 19.5 percent. The historic economic hardships that contribute to these statistics are clear, but how do these statistics affect the most vulnerable population, Croatia’s children?
Children in Croatia took the hardest hit from the 2008 recession, with child poverty rising over 50 percent. Poverty and unemployment have contributed to an increasing number of children being placed in institutions because families living below the poverty line are unable to feed or care for these children.
Children with mental and physical disabilities, behavioral issues or psychological problems are particularly at risk. Croatia’s infrastructure does not have the specialized centers to adequately accommodate and support these children. Their families are offered very little support and the children are often removed from their families and placed in institutions where they are deprived of the parental support and specialized care that they need. With little support from within local communities, SOS Children’s Villages has stepped in to provide humanitarian aid to Croatia and its children living in poverty.
SOS Children’s Villages International was founded in 1949 by Hermann Gmeiner in response to the proliferation of orphaned children after World War II. Gmeiner’s vision was to provide loving care in a family environment for children that were without parental care for whatever reason, and to help families stay together so they could care for their children. SOS Children’s Villages now operate in 135 countries through the support of donors, child sponsors, partners and friends.
SOS Children’s Villages seeks to provide humanitarian aid to Croatia by supporting local children, young people and families. Children in institutions are placed with loving SOS families to receive essential care, attention and support. SOS provides housing for young people where they can learn to live semi-independently. Families also benefit from kindergartens that will look after their children while they work.
Humanitarian aid to Croatia’s children also extends to children affected by the 2015 refugee crisis, many of whom are alone. SOS Children’s Villages works with local organizations to respond to the evolving needs of children affected by the crisis.
SOS Children’s Village has two locations in Croatia, providing support to children, young people and families throughout the country. Humanitarian aid to Croatia from SOS Children’s Village helps support families and children struggling with poverty.
– Sydney Lacey