Healthy and supportive start in life for all children in BiH

On the occasion of International Day of Families (15 May) Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Khaldoun Sinno and UNICEF Representative in BiH Geeta Narayan visited Mostar on 15 May.

This was an opportunity to showcase the progress of their joint engagement in the protection of child rights in BiH through a number of activities implemented in partnership with authorities and institutions of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and Mostar City.

Mostar is only one out of numerous locations in BiH where EU and UNICEF have joined their efforts to protect children rights in line with the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Child.

Deputy Head of EU Delegation in BiH Khaldoun Sinno underlined the EU’s commitment to promotion and protection of children rights in BiH.

“The EU and UNICEF together with relevant experts, parents, care providers, joined their resources to make it possible for many children to grow into healthy and happy individuals. Although we have just scratched the surface of this complex problem, we all together demonstrated what can be achieved when putting our resources and will together. I assure you that we will continue our support until every child gets a healthy and supportive start in life,” said Sinno.

The delegation had the opportunity to directly observe the current situation of the Children’s Home, which exclusively provides institutional care for children separated from their families and to learn more about the foreseen transformation of the children’s home into a service centre for vulnerable children and families, including establishment of various new child protection services in line with the current EU funded project “Transformation of Care Institutions”.

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Following the presentation about the transformation plan of the Children’s home in Mostar, UNICEF and the EUD welcomed the recent proposal for amendments to the Cantonal Law on Social Services, hoping for a speedy approval by the Cantonal Assembly, which would secure the sustainability of new services for families and children.

On this occasion, the delegation visited IV Elementary School, which is included in the capacity building programmes for quality inclusive education within the regional EU funded programme “Protecting children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in the Western Balkans and Turkey. With this project EU and UNICEF have pledged to continue strongly advocating for each and every child to be protected from all forms of violence and to be an equal member of society.

The director of the preschool ”Djeciji vrtici” Danijela Kegelj presented progress made in the work with children with disabilities, and home visiting services, as an opportunity to make sure that all children, including those most vulnerable, have the opportunity to receive the services that will help their development and give them the best start in life.

Up to date, there are only 22% of municipalities in BiH that are covered with Early Childhood Development services. Scaling up of these services would be of utmost importance to ensure that all children in BiH have a healthy and supportive start in life. Currently, in Mostar, the early childhood intervention services are being provided to 29 children who attend pre-school, plus 10 children in the resource room. In addition, 17 children are on the waiting list. Additionally, 16 community nurses from Mostar were trained in providing services and counselling to parents, with a special focus on how to recognise violence against children in the households they visit.