In June 2018, World Vision established a Child Friendly Space in the Salakovac Asylum Centre, with the support of UNICEF and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – Sida. Representatives of the Swedish Embassy and UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina visited the Child Friendly Space in Salakovac to see first-hand the situation of children and families there, and how the Child-friendly Space is operating.
At the moment, there are about 200 migrants in the centre, 56 of whom are under the age of 16. According to an assessment of child migrants/refugees completed in early June by international organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 400 refugee and migrant children are presently in Bosnia and Herzegovina, spending their childhoods in hostels, tents, refugee centres, and in streets where they are exposed to various risks.
Asma, an 11-year-old girl from Afghanistan, remembers attending school, which she liked a lot. She lives with her parents and brother in the Salakovac asylum centre. Darvin (aged 9), likes handcrafts, enjoys drawing and his favourite colour is yellow. Playing with their peers, singing, drawing colourful objects, the children share their stories in the Child-friendly Space.
During the visit, UNICEF Representative Geeta Narayan commented on both the vulnerability and resilience of children she met in Salakovac. “These children have fled horrible situations, travelled through difficult journeys, but in the Child-Friendly Space, we see them laugh, smile, play and be children again. This is one small way to give them back their childhood, but it is never enough” – said Ms Narayan during her visit to Salakovac.
Head of the Swedish International Development Agency Marie Bergstrom said that “We are happy to see that UNICEF, through Swedish funding, is providing the migrant children with a Child Friendly Space. After all the difficulties and uncertainty since they left their homes at least there is a place where they can play, draw and feel safe”– said Ms Bergstrom.
The Child Friendly Space aims to help children who have survived trauma, providing them the safety, security, and care they desperately need. Through organized opportunities to play, socialise, and learn, these children are given a chance to express their hopes and fears. In this way, these children can rebuild their emotional resilience, enabling them to better cope with their experiences and regain some sense of normality and structure.
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.