EU and UNICEF launch project to help protect children from violence in South East Europe

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.

Background Bosnia and Herzegovina: Inclusive systems need to be in place to prevent and address violence against children.

UNICEF will work with an already established network of NGOs, Ombudspersons and children to further develop their capacities in monitoring child rights and violence against children in a more systematic manner. The project will enter the data produced by different institutions and collected by the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, along with qualitative data collected by NGOs at community level into a unique system, enabling cross-referencing administrative data with case studies and soft indicators collected by NGOs. Technical support will be provided to improve data management systems to monitor violence cases.

UNICEF will also develop capacities of and support key government institutions in evidence-based advocacy and policy development.  Based on the assessment and analysis of gaps, the project will develop standards, protocols, job descriptions and referral mechanisms, and will develop the capacity of service providers across all social sectors in at least 10 locations. The aim is to establish inclusive protection systems that will more effectively prevent and address violence against children. UNICEF will strengthen inter-sector cooperation and will introduce professional accountability and monitoring of implementation of adopted procedures. 

The project will support ombudspersons and civil society organizations in strengthening their capacities to influence public debates on key violence-against-children issues.  UNICEF and its partners will also advocate the allocation of resources for the protection of children and their families.

Contact: Nela Kacmarcik, UNICEF BiH +387 61 192 084