On the International Day of Families (15 May) Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina Khaldoun Sinno and UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Geeta Narayan visited Mostar today. This was an opportunity to showcase the progress of their joint engagement in the protection of child rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina through a number of interlinked and mutually supportive activities implemented in partnership with authorities and institutions of the Canton and Mostar City.
Mostar is only one out of numerous locations in Bosnia and Herzegovina where EU and UNICEF have joined their efforts to protect children rights in line with the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Child.
Deputy Head of EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina Khaldoun Sinno underlined the EU's commitment to promotion and protection of children rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The EU and UNICEF together with relevant experts, parents, care providers, joined their resources to make it possible for many children to grow into healthy and happy individuals. Although we have just scratched the surface of this complex problem, we all together demonstrated what can be achieved when putting our resources and will together. I assure you that we will continue our support until every child gets a healthy and supportive start in life," said Sinno.
“I would like to commend all our partners in Mostar for their commitment and efforts made so far which paved the way for many great results for children and youth in Mostar. It is my hope and expectation that these commitments will be matched by a continued investment from both the Cantonal Government and the City of Mostar, including allocation of adequate financial, human and technical resources needed to sustain the results we have so far achieved for children and youth in Mostar. I’m especially pleased that we are making this visit on International Day of Families, recognising the unique importance of a nurturing and safe family environment for all children,” – said UNICEF Representative Geeta Narayan.
Representatives of Cantonal Government of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, as well as the Mayor of Mostar City, emphasized the importance of raising public awareness on children’s rights and confirmed their commitment for mobilising increased resources contributing to child wellbeing for every child.
The delegation had the opportunity to directly observe the current situation of the Children’s Home, which exclusively provides institutional care for children separated from their families and to learn more about the foreseen transformation of the children’s home into a service centre for vulnerable children and families, including establishment of various new child protection services in line with the current EU funded project "Transformation of Care Institutions". Following the presentation about the transformation plan of the Children’s home in Mostar, UNICEF and the EUD welcomed the recent proposal for amendments to the Cantonal Law on Social Services, hoping for a speedy approval by the Cantonal Assembly, which would secure the sustainability of new services for families and children.
On this occasion, the delegation visited IV Elementary School, which is included in the capacity building programmes for quality inclusive education within the regional EU funded programme “Protecting children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in the Western Balkans and Turkey. With this project EU and UNICEF have pledged to continue strongly advocating for each and every child to be protected from all forms of violence and to be an equal member of society.
The School Principal Seada Kustric emphasized this school’s positive experience: “We have realised that inclusion does not only benefit the child with a disability, but is an important step towards creating a quality school and thus benefits each of our students, parents and employees”, said Kustric.
The director of the preschool ”Djeciji vrtici” Danijela Kegelj presented progress made in the work with children with disabilities, and home visiting services, as an opportunity to make sure that all children, including those most vulnerable, have the opportunity to receive the services that will help their development and give them the best start in life. Up to date, there are only 22% of municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina that are covered with Early Childhood Development services. Scaling up of these services would be of utmost importance to ensure that all children in Bosnia and Herzegovina have a healthy and supportive start in life. Currently, in Mostar, the early childhood intervention services are being provided to 29 children who attend pre-school, plus 10 children in the resource room. In addition, 17 children are on the waiting list. Additionally, 16 community nurses from Mostar were trained in providing services and counselling to parents, with a special focus on how to recognise violence against children in the households they visit.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.