EU, UNICEF and USAID: Children with disabilities have the same rights as all children

Marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU, UNICEF and USAID jointly call on the commitment of the overall society and decision makers to focus greater attention and investment in helping children and young people with disabilities to realize their rights.
“Children with disabilities deserve the same chance to make the most of their lives and to make their voices heard, especially as they are more vulnerable to violence, neglect, and abuse” said UNICEF Representative Florence Bauer. “We need to remove the barriers that prevent the full participation of children with disabilities – from programmes that ignore their needs, to prejudice that limits their ability to contribute. UNICEF is committed to working with partners to overcome the barriers that stand between children with disabilities and the full realization of their rights,”- she added.
“For a country working towards EU membership, the fact that some children with disabilities are routinely denied access to health, education or social services must change.  We are committed to jointly support the institutions at all levels to prevent the exclusion of children with disabilities and to increase their opportunities to participate in communities and break the vicious cycle of prejudice and poverty.”  – stressed Ambassador Peter Sorensen, Head of the Delegation of the EU to BiH and EU Special Representative.
 “You can measure a great deal about a society based on how they treat their most vulnerable members.  It’s an obligation of our common humanity to ensure that everyone is given the greatest possible chance to participate meaningfully in all aspects of life.  Our first obligation is to help people see that the group we call “persons with disabilities” are our children, our neighbours, our co-workers and our friends.  They are an important part of the fabric of our society and deserve every consideration under law and social policy.  USAID is wholly committed to integrating the rights of the persons with disabilities in everything that we do.”- said USAID Mission Director David J Barth.
USAID has declared December as a month devoted to caring for all children by organizing a series of events for children with disabilities. 
These events include opening a special children’s corner at the Sarajevo Holiday Market, a free performance of the children’s opera “Peter and the Wolf,” and visits to Sarajevo paediatrics clinic and the Mjedenica school for children with special needs with gifts, balloons, and clowns.  USAID will also officially open the renovated and energy efficient SOS kindergarten village in Gracanica.  
Despite the lack of data, the evidence exists that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded groups of children. There are still extraordinary gaps, especially in rural and remote areas, where poverty and inequality are more prominent. EU, UNICEF and USAID will continue to join forces towards supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina in creating effective legislation to protect the rights of children with disabilities, to establish programmes and services to support children with disabilities and their families at the community and national levels, and to dispel stereotypes, fight stigma and change attitudes towards disability.