EU and UNICEF launch project to help protect children from violence in South East Europe
BRUSSELS/GENEVA, 30 June, 2011 — The European Union and UNICEF today announced a new €1.65 million joint initiative to strengthen public services aimed at identifying, monitoring and addressing violence against children in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey, through reinforced partnership between civil society and state decision makers. Regional activities planned under the new two-year initiative will foster knowledge and experience-sharing among key intergovernmental organisations, networks of independent monitoring networks and civil society platforms.
"This is an important project that recognises the need to provide better protection for our children from violence at home, in school and in the community, violence that all too often goes unnoticed. It is a good example of co-operation between international organisations and civil society as well as the wide-ranging role played by the EU in the region", said European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle.
“Public services must have a clear role in supporting and protecting children from violence,” said Steven Allen, UNICEF's Regional Director for Central, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “UNICEF continues to develop a compact between civil society, policy makers and communities to support families and provide a nurturing and protective environment for children.”
As part of the 2011-2013 scheme the four countries will analyse gaps in the accountability and responsiveness which may be present in the public service systems. By addressing this the service providers who come in contact with children will be better equipped to identify cases of violence against children and subsequently improve the professional referral of cases
National civil society networks and formal independent monitoring bodies such as ombudspersons or child rights observatories will also be engaged and trained to raise awareness; improve the collection, monitoring and analysing of data while contributing to policy dialogue about violence against children.
The financial support is being granted under the Civil Society Facility (CSF) – 2010 multi-beneficiary programme under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). As stated in the Enlargement Strategy and Challenges 2010-2011 , the Civil Society Facility (CSF) created in 2008 helps civil society organisations to strengthen their capacities and professionalism, allowing them to engage in an effective dialogue with public and private actors and to monitor developments in areas such as the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights. The facility finances initiatives at local level, regional networking and short-term visits to the EU.
Violence against children is a global concern. With a view to obtaining a better understanding of the position of children in the Western Balkans and Turkey, the European Commission has responded to the call of UNICEF for more research to shed light on the issue. Both the EU and UNICEF are keen to assess carefully on what still needs to be done to assure that these children obtain the same protection, basic rights, etc as within the EU. In line with this the EU has invited the Western Balkans and Turkey to join Union Programmes such as Daphne and Progress, while inviting them to develop their own similar initiatives with or without IPA support.
About 65 percent of school children endure taunts and physical violence in Serbia, according to the Council of Child Rights of the government of Serbia. The council has proposed amendments to the Family Law to ban corporal punishment in the home. Its engagement with the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Welfare and the Media is seen as a step in the right direction.
In Turkey, children suffer violence predominantly at home, according to a recent national survey. Telephone hotlines have been set up in Albania while technical support given to police, justice, health workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in strengthening referral systems. However, much more remains to be done to better protect children from violence.