Kosovo: fighting against child labour

Photography credits: Roxana Todea

Source: Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection (KOMF) from Kosovo 

In Kosovo, 10.7% of children from 5 to 17 years old are engaged in heavy labour. They are left to take care of themselves and they are obliged to behave as adults, loosing thus their childhood.

Honored representatives of the Media,

The engagment of children in heavy and hazardous labour is an issue which different countries of the world continue to face. According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, in the Republic of Kosovo the percentage of children aged 5 – 17 years old who are engaged in heavy labour, is 10.7%[1]. While the general number of children engaged in heavy labour, identified from Centres for Social Work in national level for 2014, was 206 children.

Considering this, the majority of children who are engaged in heavy labour are somehow obliged to behave as adults, thus loosing the opportunity to enjoy their rights as children.

These children are exposed to several risks regarding their health as well as various forms of violations of child rights, including: neglect, mistreatment, emotional and physical abuse. In some cases they are exposed even to lack of registration, lack of access to education and housing, putting themselves at risk of sexual exploitation and/or  trafficking.

KOMF appreciates the work of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, for the establishment of the legal basis and creation of mechanisms for the protection of children involved in heavy labour, considering it as an important step toward child protection[2].

However, KOMF considers that still there is not enough institutional will regarding child protection in heavy labour. This is noticed from the lack of budget planning for the implementation of the aproved legislation and as a result, as well as lack of services or other alternatives that would protect child from engagement in heavy labour.

Despite the decentralization of social services, municipalities undertook a few concrete actions to allocate budget in order to protect child in their municipalities. The lack of a specific grant for municipalities dedicated for social services, makes it impossible to provide quality services in their protection.

Despite these limits, in some municipalities, public institutions at the local level do take occasional sporadic actions, but however the number of children who are withdrawn from heavy labour, unfortunately, remains small.

Therefore, KOMF requires your attention (of the Prime Minister and Municipal Mayors) to realize the obligations you have as executive body, making thus child protection a priority in the governmental programs, in both central and municipal level, in order to work on the prevention and protection of children engaged in heavy labour.

  • KOMF calles on the Prime Minister of Kosovo, the Minister of Economy and Finance and the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, to establish a specific grant for social services, in order to ensure a sustainable and fair fund of social services. The best solution for this, is considered to be through amending and supplementing the law Nr. 03/L-049 for Local Government Finances and the establishment of a grant, which should be along the operative grants as a grant for social services.
  • Since poor enviroment encourages children to stay in the streets and in heavy labour, we request to increase the budget for the social assistance scheme, increasing thus the monthly amount of social assistance to ensure basic food needs. The monthly average amount of social assistance is too small to afford the basic living conditions such as food and clothing for a family. Today, a family consisting of 4 members (two adults and two children) receives 75 EUR per month, while according to the recent studies it results that if the amount of the social assistance would have been increased in accordance with the growing prices in years, today the amount of social assistance for a family consisting of 4 members, would have been 121 EUR per month.
  • KOMF calles on the Municipal Majors of Kosovo, to ensure a sustainable fund for social services in order to enable municipal officers to provide quality services and meet the needs for prevention and protection of children engaged in heavy labour.

[1] Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in the Republic of Kosovo 2013-2014, Kosovo Agency of Statistics

[2] Strategy for the preventation and elemination of child labour in Kosovo, Kosovo Committee for the preventation and elemination of the worst forms of child labour in national level, Kosovo Committees for the preventation and elemination of the worst forms of child labour in municipal level