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About Us

UNICEF in Croatia

UNICEF  is a leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child. Child rights begin with safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster and conflict and traverse the life cycle: pre-natal care for healthy births, clean water and sanitation, health care and education.

UNICEF has spent nearly 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Working with and for children through adolescence and into adulthood requires a global presence whose goal is to produce results and monitor their effects. UNICEF also lobbies and partners with leaders, thinkers and policy makers to help all children realize their rights—especially the most disadvantaged.

UNICEF’s work is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Its main task, in cooperation with states and the civil sector, is to help promote, protect and realisze the rights of all children, particularly those belonging to the most vulnerable groups.

The work of UNICEF in Croatia is supported by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, which has ensured office space for its work since 1991.

Head of Office

Valentina Otmačić has been the Head of the UNICEF team in Croatia since 2014. Prior to assuming the duties of Head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, she was active in the field of human rights education, and worked with children, youth and adults in Sisak-Moslavina County as part of the Human Rights Friendly Schools project.

She began her rich international career in the promotion and protection of human rights in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1996 at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE). Ms Otmačić then joined the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Tanzania, where she coordinated field activities at the Lukole refugee camp that held more than 130,000 refugees from Burundi and Rwanda.

Ms Otmačić continued her work on the promotion and realisation of the rights of refugees in 2002 in Burundi, where she coordinated activities related to the return and reintegration of refugees from that country. She worked on projects for children and youth in Lebanon from 2004 to 2007. It was during this period that she wrote the handbook Conflict as a Challenge: Enhancing Children’s Capacities of Constructive Conflict Transformation. Today the handbook is used for teacher training in Lebanese schools.

She gained additional experience of running complex projects whilst in Columbia where from 2008 to 2009 she managed the EU-funded project Regional Network for Development and Social Cohesion – Instruments and Activities for Social Integration of Communities affected by Violence in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

After Master degrees in Peace, Conflict Studies and Human rights at the Universities of Barcelona and Granada, Ms Otmačić obtained her doctorate in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom in 2018. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French and Spanish from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Zagreb and is fluent in English.

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