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International Children’s Day - UNICEF reminds BIH society of its commitments to children

Sarajevo, 18. November 2005. – Marking the International Children’s Day (20. November)  children around the world use the opportunity to remind the adults about the promises that are yet to be fulfilled. November is also an important month for children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the month when their rights were officially confirmed by signing two important documents.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989. Bosnia and Herzegovina signed this Convention in 1993 and then restated its commitments to the rights of children in its Constitution drafted in Dayton on 21November 1995.

Within its Constitution, the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina reconfirm their commitment to ensure equal rights of all children of this country regardless of their culture, religion, race, social or any other status. This constitution echoes what the Convention on the Rights of the Child prescribes. Both documents define the rights of children and promises made to these children.

Now, 16 years after entry into force of the Convention, and 10 years after Dayton, the respect of the rights of children has not been fully achieved in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most socially excluded and minority children still do not have access to basic services, which deprives them of their rights to development and protection.

The number of poor children in BiH is increasing, which denies children’s right to adequate standard of living, protection and development.

Discrimination of children based on ethnic, cultural or religious grounds continues, especially in schools.

The number of children who are victims of exploitation and abuse is on the increase, as is the incidence of family violence and violence in schools, as well as substance abuse and high levels of risky behaviors amongst children and young people.

Statistical inadequacy and lack of political will to make children important part of the socio-economic and legal reform contributes to powerlessness of families, of children and of direct service providers for children.

Voices of children are not heard in the noise of politician’s voices in the parliaments and other places where decision makers sit.

Considering the fact that children are yet again not perceived as the most important group in the society, UNICEF invites the BiH decision makers to seriously turn their attention to children. UNICEF’s Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Helena Eversole, stressed that children’s rights must be at the centre of any reform efforts by the Government, adding: “We all - including Government, international community, politicians, parents, teachers, and ordinary citizens - still have a enormous work to do to ensure that this country fulfills its obligations to its children as specified in the Convention of the Rights of the Child.”

UNICEF in Bosnia and Herzegovina symbolically marks the International Children’s Day, organizing vaccination of Roma children from Gorica, in health centre Vrazova, with the assistance of Pediatric Association and health personnel from Vrazova. Some of these children are six years old and were never immunized before.

UNICEF BIH will also distribute notebooks and markers to pupils from 5 primary schools in Gorazde area, affected by poverty and lack of access to schools, as many of them walking a number of kilometers to get into school. UNICEF’s hopes to change this situation by asking a BIH business to provide a mini van for transport of children living far away from schools.

In addition, NGO Genesis Project from Banja Luka with UNICEF’s support will be running a Mine Risk Education course for students at the faculty of pedagogy of Derventa on 25 November. The training will be supported by Prof. Dr. Nenad Suzic, former Minister of Education in RS.



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