UNICEF Representative Dr. Khan visits Una-Sana Canton
"I am delighted to meet the children in "Sedra", everything we do here changes their lives for the better"
During a two-day visit to Una-Sana Canton, Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina(BiH), visited the "Sedra" Temporary Reception Centre and met with parents and children who use some of the services provided by UNICEF in cooperation with partners, as well as the location "Lipa", where new accommodation is being built for families and unaccompanied children in which children will also have support through children's corners and other services currently provided by UNICEF in temporary reception centres.
At "Sedra", UNICEF currently supports children with families and unaccompanied children through 24-hour protection and a variety of programmes, including the Mother and Baby corner, the Children's Corner, the Youth Corner, and non-formal education for children.
UNICEF BiH, in cooperation with Save the Children, as an implementation partner, also organizes language courses for children on the move through the Akelius methodology, which was supported by the Swedish National Committee in 2020. UNICEF has also provided tablets with a language learning app, and children from the Centre are happy to come to the workshops that 460 girls and boys have gone through so far.
Although due to the current COVID-19 situation the children are divided into smaller groups, each of the workshops is very lively, and so was the workshop that took place during the tour of "Sedra. In the hallway in front of the Corner a group of children were having fun playing table tennis, and Dr. Khan could not refuse the challenge to play a match with them, to their general delight and with cheering. In the course in the Corner, children learn about the language through a combination of writing, reading, using dictionaries and application on tablets. Among them that day were sisters Diyar (8) and Firyal (12) who have been travelling with their family from Iraq for six years.
The girls talked about their long journey, their stay in “Sedra”, the activities in which they participate, and how much they missed their friends and schoolmates, after they had to continue their education online, due to the pandemic of COVID-19.
“I love coming here, I love drawing, writing, learning new words. I would love to live in Germany and be a doctor", says Diyar, while her older sister has not only demonstrated outstanding knowledge using Akelius, but also uses the Oxford dictionary to learn as many words as possible and improve conversation with her teachers and peers.
“I am happy to be able to present my culture and our national dishes to my friends. Even my mom likes to use this programme, maybe even more than me", Firyal revealed through conversation with Dr. Khan.
“I was completely fascinated by the conversation with these girls, as well as the meeting with the other children in the centre, the table tennis game, as well as the visit to the youngest ones in the Corner for moms and babies. Everything we do here changes the lives of the children, no matter how long they stay in the camp. They are learning to socialize, learning the language, preparing for the next part of their journey, and this is only possible with the generous support of the European Union and we are very grateful to UNICEF's national committees for supporting us to make children's lives better while on the move. We would also like to emphasize the support of the authorities at all levels whose cooperation and support have enabled us to provide the necessary services for children, which includes protection and other necessary services," said Dr. Rownak Khan after visiting "Sedra", where she also visited the Youth Corner, a paediatric clinic run by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) with support from UNICEF as well as one of the group sessions within the Psychosocial Support for Mental Health provided by UNICEF in cooperation with Medecins du Monde (MdM).
Maja Andrić from the partner organization Save the Children says that in the area of Una-Sana Canton UNICEF and Save the Children jointly carry out various activities for children, including non-formal education that 1972 children have gone through so far, while 1383 children have gone through formal education - including preparatory and regular classes.
During her two-day visit, Dr. Rownak Khan visited the Bihać City Administration where she met with Mayor Šuhret Fazlić to discuss UNICEF programmes in Bihać and Una-Sana Canton such as ReImagine Education, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as well as the potential for the implementation of projects that would more actively involve young people in environmental issues and environmental protection.
“We want every child in the Bihać area to be adequately placed and to have all the necessary care and attention. All this is possible through a holistic and strategic approach, and not through partial solutions", said Šuhret Fazlić, adding that the City of Bihać, the same as before, is ready to provide support in its part, but that it wants the projects that are being implemented to be useful to the citizens of Bihać and the local community too.
Dr. Khan also met with the Minister of Health and Social Policy, Dr. Muris Halkić, and discussed the current epidemiological situation, vaccination against COVID-19 and opportunities to improve the process, as well as regular immunization of children and ways to increase the worryingly low coverage, as well as the promotion and digitization of the cold chain.
The challenges related to the accommodation of unaccompanied children were discussed during the visit to the Bihać Centre for Social Work, which, with the support of UNICEF, in the past assigned unaccompanied children caregivers who took care of them during their stay in reception centres, took them to the doctor, and attended the signing of the necessary documents.
Director of CSR Bihać Senad Tutić thanked UNICEF for the continuous cooperation and the assistance provided by UNICEF, as well as participation in the Disaster Risk Reduction project (DRR), adding that in the coming period the Bihać Centre for Social Work will need support in providing help for children who will be accommodated in the future centre "Lipa" which is 22 km from Bihać, in the form of caregivers, fuel, multidisciplinary team, as well as help for the most vulnerable categories of the local population through the provision of school supplies.
Dr. Khan also meet with Mirsad Hadžić, Head of the Bihać Field Office of the Foreigners' Affairs Service, with whom she also discussed the treatment of unaccompanied children, the support they need and the treatment of them, all while respecting and protecting human rights of each and every one of them.