Encouraging the improvement of the living condition of Roma population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we continuously confirm that the rights of Roma children are one of the priorities in our work.
According to official estimates, in Bosnia and Herzegovina live between 25,000 and 50,000 Roma people. They are recognized as the largest, most neglected and most vulnerable minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the conditions in which the majority of the Roma families in Bosnia and Herzegovina live can be characterized as a state of chronic, multidimensional poverty.
The gap between the Roma and the majority of the population, in terms of housing, employment, education, and healthcare, is very noticeable, and Roma women are in a particularly difficult situation.
Key indicators for Roma children show that these children are three times more likely to live in poverty than their non-Roma peers, five times more likely to be malnourished and twice as likely to be lagging behind in growth. The enrollment rate in primary school is lower by one third than among the non-Roma population, and the rate of immunization is only four percent compared to 68 percent among the majority of the population.
A Multiple Indicator Survey (MICS) of the Roma population for 2011 and 2012 in Bosnia and Herzegovina has shown that:
- The infant mortality rate among Roma is 24 per 1,000 live-born children, while the likelihood of dying before the age of five 27 per 1,000 live-born children.
- 21 percent of Roma children are of short stature, while eight percent of children are seriously lagging behind in growth.
- Only two percent of Roma children aged between 36 and 59 months are enrolled in organized early childhood education programs, while only four percent Roma children that are enrolled in the first grade of primary school attended pre-school institutions in the previous year.
- Only one-half of Roma children (47 percent) that are old enough to be enrolled in the primary school attend the first grade of primary school.
- Over one-half of Roma children aged between two and 14 years were exposed to some form of psychological or physical punishment by their parents or other adult members of their households.
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina, in cooperation with its partners, provides support to the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina in implementing the Multiple Indicator Survey (MICS) about Roma in cooperation with the Agency for Statistics in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The fourth cycle of the global MICS research in 2011 and 2012 included for the first time a special research on health, nutrition, education, child protection and other indicators related to the lives of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Bosnia and Herzegovina has committed itself to respecting and guaranteeing the rights of children listed in the Convention without any discrimination in respect of child’s race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other affiliation, national, ethnic or social origin, property status, disability or other status.
The research identified both the shortcomings and the institutional capacities for responding to the disadvantaged Roma situation, highlighting the importance of the role of Roma population in participating in development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of measures aimed at improving their position.
In response to the large differences in equality, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina has for a number of years affirmed the equal opportunities for every child in education, health care, social protection, and other services, paying particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable children, including Roma children.
Through cooperation with government partners and civil society representatives, UNICEF confirms that Roma children are one of the priority groups, which Implies that in its research, advocacy, advice on policies and programs, UNICEF places emphasis on their rights.
The priorities of UNICEF in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in terms of commitment to improving the living conditions and social inclusion of Roma children, include the following activities:
- Working with partners to increase the coverage of quality pre-school education and supporting the inclusion of Roma in primary and secondary education.
- Promoting support services for early childhood development through home visits and education of parents, including Roma families.
- Working on providing access to quality inclusive health services for women and children of Roma origin.
- Supporting targeted supplemental immunization programs against vaccine-preventable diseases, such as, for example, childhood paralysis.
- Supporting the collection of data and analysis for the sake of better understanding the situation in which Roma population lives, in order to influence public policies.
- Together with the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina presenting Guidelines for the improvement of the status of Roma children in Bosnia and Herzegovina that enable more effective action to reduce social exclusion for the Roma population.