Head Of The EU Delegation To BiH/EUSR, Sorensen, UNICEF Representative In BiH, Bauer and USAID Mission Director, Barth Visited Derventa
Sarajevo, 17th June 2013. – Ambassador Peter Sorensen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU Special Representative, together with Ms. Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina visited Derventa today as one of the Municipalities of the joint EU and UNICEF programme for Enhancing Social Protection and Inclusion Systems for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. David Barth, USAID Mission Director for BiH joined the visit as a part of the preparation for the continuation of the initiative through a joint campaign focused on children with disabilities “It’s About Ability”.
During the visit they met with the RS Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Slobodan Stanic, the Mayor of Derventa, Mr. Milorad Simic as well as the members of the Municipal Social Protection and Inclusion Commission. They also visited the Day Care Center for Children with Disabilities, one of the services that were established as part of social protection systems for children.
“Derventa is one of the 21 municipalities where permanent Municipal Social Protection and Inclusion Commissions have been established. They comprise of representatives from the health, education, social welfare, police and other sectors as well as of non-governmental institutions. They work together to identify the most vulnerable children and families and to provide the best social protection services to them. The day care center for children with disabilities is one of the many services that have been established to respond to the needs of this particularly vulnerable segment of society” – stressed UNICEF Representative Florence Bauer.
The European Union has been financing the project "Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in BiH (SPIS)" since 2008 through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in the total amount of 4.1 million EUR, with the objective to support enhancing systems for adequate social protection and inclusion for children and their families. The project is implemented by UNICEF in cooperation with BiH authorities at all levels.
Ambassador Sorensen said: “The Day Care Center for Children with Disabilities in Derventa is just one example of the results of our joint work with UNICEF, the different levels of governments, and representatives of civil society over the last 3 years. We have been working and will continue to work together to ensure a better life for children through adequate social protection and education services, in order for them to become equal citizens of the EU family of nations."
The SPIS approach, which has been successfully modeled in 21 municipalities, is being expanded to other municipalities in the country. One of the activities in the continuation of the SPIS programme will be that joint EU-USAID-UNICEF campaign focused on children with disabilities “It’s About Ability”.
USAID Mission Director David Barth said: “You can measure a great deal about a society based on how they treat their most vulnerable members. It’s an obligation of our common humanity to ensure that everyone is given the greatest possible chance to participate meaningfully in all aspects of life. Our first obligation is to help people see that the group we call “persons with disabilities” are our children, our neighbours, our co-workers and our friends. They are an important part of the fabric of our society and deserve every consideration under law and social policy. USAID is wholly committed to integrating the rights of the persons with disabilities in everything that we do.”
Through the demonstration of effective social protection and inclusion municipal models, UNICEF in partnership with EU have been able to influence laws, policies and strategies at entity and state levels. In 2012, Republika Srpska adopted a law on social protection that was inspired by the municipal social protection and inclusion approach. Currently, the Federation of BiH is revising laws on social protection and child protection, to harmonize benefits across cantons, with technical assistance from UNICEF and the World Bank. The programme also facilitated closer cooperation between health, education, and social protection sectors at all levels.