On 29 May, a conference was held in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the ‘Support to Transformation of Care Institutions’, a €1 million, EU-funded programme. The conference presented the programme’s findings and recommendations, with a special focus on the reforms necessary to further transform the country’s care institutions.
Khaldoun Sinno, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasised that the protection and promotion of the rights of the child is one of the main objectives of the European Union. He further remarked that, in line with this objective, the EU’s overall goal is ‘to ensure that all children, but in particular children without parental care, children at risk of separation from their families, and children with disabilities, enjoy equal rights and status with other children in Bosnia and Herzegovina’.
Afshan Khan, Regional Director of the UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, noted that UNICEF, the EU, and other partners have worked alongside government and civil society in the last two decades to improve deinstitutionalization of children and to strengthen family care systems in BiH. She emphasised that once complex reforms are implemented, they will directly contribute to the overall improvement to childcare.
Conference panellists presented the results of the programme in terms of impact within ministries and institutions relevant to childcare. Panellists further emphasised the need to mobilise the support of key stakeholders and the media to fulfil the rights of children in accordance with related international conventions and the strategic framework in BiH.
Biljana Čamur-Veselinović, General Secretary of the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs, highlighted that cooperation is crucial to further the initiatives aimed at childcare. She added that ‘we need to protect the rights of the most vulnerable children and strengthen communities so that every child’s right to live with a family is safeguarded’.
Local institutions and higher levels of government receive EU support to ensure capacity-building and to enable them to provide necessary services and implement core duties. Conference participants agreed that to ensure successful implementation, and that children with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina reach their full potential, a high level of commitment is necessary from all those involved.