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Mr Palm's speech on the launching ceremony of the Child Protection Unit (CPU) established in the Administrative Unit Nr. 4 in Tirana on 21 November 2011

We have been waiting long for this event. Tirana is a fast growing city, with all its attendant opportunities and problems. One of these issues is the protection of children from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Let's be real. These problems exist, they exist in all large cities, including those in Europe, and they are not going away on their own. Albania has signed  the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and we can expect that the State or its designated authorities deal with it, in a way that is in accordance with the best practice of child care.

On this note, I want to congratulate the municipality of Tirana and Terres des Hommes for having found a way to cooperate, and to put the capacities in place to assist the children - and often their families - who do no longer have control over their lives. It is a difficult task, and one that requires sensitivity, a good management system and political will. This child protection unit will be a part of a growing network of child protection units, which now should have 28 or 29 of these units mostly but not always in the critical hotspots of the country.

Too often, child abuse, neglect or domestic violence is seen to be a family affair, something that state institutions or other organizations should not interfere with. And often, the easy solution seems to separate the children from their parents, put them into institutions. But we all know, that these attitudes are old-fashioned and potentially more harmful for the child. The staff of the CPU need to be skilled social workers, who can help the families to get a better grip on their lives and solve what often is a hopeless situation. They need to connect with many other state and non-state institutions to find solutions. They also need to have the training and experience to find what is best for the children, because the best interest of the child must always remain the overriding concern.

I wish to thank the municipality for doing their part to establish this CPU, and I thank Terres des Hommes for putting all their efforts behind it to make it happen. I also encourage all the other actors - institutions, schools, the police force, health personnel and civil society organizations to work with the new CPU, and give it and the disadvantaged children all support we can. Only if we all work together, can we ensure that also the most vulnerable children can enjoy their rights, be equal with everyone else and develop to their full potential.

 

 
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