UNODC supports South Eastern Europe in facing the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo: © UNODC

28 April 2020 – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) continued to support the Governments of South Eastern Europe during the COVID-19 outbreak as part of the preparedness and response to the pandemic, in particular Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

In early April, UNODC equipped the frontline law enforcement officers of the Port Control Unit (PCU) of the Durres Port and the Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) of the Tirana International Airport with protective equipment to face the COVID-19 outbreak, which included gloves, face masks, googles and hand sanitizers. Protective equipment is also being delivered to the PCU of the border crossing point Bijaca in Bosnia and Herzegovina while UNODC is further consulting with the other units of the region on their needs on the ground.

In addition, UNODC initiated the procedure to provide COVID-19 protective equipment to the law enforcement officers of the international airports of Belgrade, Sarajevo and Skopje, which are part, along with the Bijaca and other PCUs in the region, of a UNODC initiative on promoting the rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in the region, funded by the European Union.

Furthermore, at this time of increased use of the internet for use as a ‘digital office’, shopping online, joining online forums and webinars, UNODC sought to support the Governments of the region through offering assistance in addressing cybercrime as the significantly increased risk of cyber criminality becomes well documented and the risk of exposure to such crime grows correspondingly.

UNODC support to the regional law enforcement agencies has increased further with the offer of free access to UN e-Learning modules for operational staff in the area of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Finally, as part of its prevention programme, UNODC has disseminated information on parenting during COVID-19 to support the families of the region in coping with the situation. For better outreach, the materials were translated in the local languages.

Similarly, UNODC distributed to its counterparts and partners various technical guidance documents on how to ensure the continuity and sustainability of health services addressing the needs of people who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure an adequate response to substance abuse during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the situation unfolds, UNODC continues to monitor the situation on the ground in cooperation and coordination with its counterparts to provide the necessary assistance to the Governments of South Eastern Europe.