Everybody counts

A situation analysis of the inclusion of children with disabilities in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Riad Mehmeti with his younger sister in front of the family home in Pristina, Kosovo (SCR 1244).



The report, Everybody counts, released to mark the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, reveals that across Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Serbia and Turkey, efforts to end the segregation of children with disabilities in institutions and integrate them into their communities are not going far enough.

Despite the many positive steps taken by governments across the region to date, the report highlights major challenges that remain, including:

  • Inadequate access to early identification and intervention programmes, support services in the community, healthcare and truly inclusive education. 
  • Entrenched social discrimination and stigma, which are especially severe for children with disabilities who are also from other marginalised groups, such as refugees or the Roma community. 
  • A high risk of families slipping into poverty as they shoulder the high costs of care.
  • Insufficient harmonisation of legislation with international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as poor implementation of relevant policies.
  • Unreliable data on children with disabilities.
  • Lack of protection for children with disabilities from the increased risk they face of violence and abuse.

The research findings put a spotlight on barriers that keep children with disabilities from being full and active participants in society. From this evidence, specific areas for reform can be highlighted, each of which can boost inclusion and help children with disabilities fulfil their potential.

  • Improve access to quality and inclusive education, healthcare, early identification and intervention services, public spaces and community services for children with disabilities.
  • Tackle discrimination, violence, and lift families out of poverty.
  • Improve data and fulfil their obligations as signatories of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


*For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.  For UNICEF, references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).  

Everybody counts: sitaution analysis
UNICEF, European Disability Forum, International Children's Center
Publication date

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