SARAJEVO, 29 May 2019 – UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, concluded a three-day trip to Bosnia Herzegovina today, which had focused on promoting social inclusion and greater investments in services that protect the rights of the most vulnerable children and families.
“It has been very encouraging to meet children, families, social workers, teachers and government partners, and see at first hand the progress made in improving the quality of education and empower young people,” said Ms. Khan. “This year, as we mark 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is especially critical for all Governments to prioritize reaching the most vulnerable children, including those who live with disabilities, refugee children and children from minority communities. These are children who too often at the margins of society,” she added.
Highlighting the importance of inclusive education, Ms. Khan met with teachers and students at the Dzemaludin Causevic Elementary School which successfully included children with disabilities into all aspects of school life, and the Prva osnovna skola Ilidza Elementary School where refugee children learn alongside their peers. Both schools, in Sarajevo, demonstrate the positive impact inclusive education has for their students and wider community.
Ms. Khan participated in a conference organized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the European Union and UNICEF, on every child’s right to grow up in a caring family environment. Conference participants reflected on the progress made reforming the child care system, including the closing of large-scale institutions, and the need for further investments in community-based services accessible by vulnerable families.
Commenting on the ongoing measles outbreak in Bosnia Herzegovina, Ms. Khan reiterated that vaccines are safe, and how vital it is for every child to have routine immunizations on time. She helped to launch the new “My Calendar of Immunisation” mobile application, an app to help families adhere to their children’s immunization schedule.
Ms. Khan, who is also UNICEF’s Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, met with refugee and migrant children and their families at the Temporary Reception Centre in Usivak, where UNICEF provides humanitarian assistance such as safe spaces for children to learn and play, and specialized protection for unaccompanied and separated children.
The UNICEF Regional Director’s official visit wrapped up with a meeting with Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Chairman, Milorad Dodik. Mr. Dodik and Ms. Khan reaffirmed their joint commitment for strategic investments in the wellbeing of children, particularly in the area of education with a focus on quality learning.
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.