Source: Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection (KOMF) from Kosovo
3 December 2015, Prishtina
The Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection – KOMF, in cooperation with One to One Children’s Fund, held a roundtable to mark the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
The purpose of the meeting was to bring together all the relevant institutions, civil society, media and the wider public to focus attention on the protection of the rights of children with disabilities. The current situation of the rights of children with disabilities in Kosovo was discussed, as well as the achievements, the challenges and the priorities and recommendations that need to be pursued.
The conference was opened by the President of KOMF Mrs. Shehu Perolli. “In Kosovo, the majority of children with disabilities lives in difficult conditions and do not enjoy fully the child rights”, Mr. Shehu declared. Mrs. Shehu demanded that concrete steps to be taken to protect the rights of children with disabilities and added that KOMF will monitor their implementation in practice. Mrs. Liridona Zogaj, director of One to One Children’s Fund, an organization that provides services through day care centers for children with disabilities, spoke about the financial difficulties of these services for children and she appealed towards municipalities to undertake the financing of these services.
The Chair of the Committee for Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons and Petitions, Mrs. Lirije Kajtazi expressed the readiness, as member of the Assembly and chair of the committee, to contribute towards improving the legal framework for children with disabilities, also due to the fact that the committee will review the Draft Law on Child Protection.
Mr Hilmi Jashari, Ombudsman in Kosovo, focused more on the problem of adequate law implementation, where he underlined the need for research and analysis of the situation in order to assess where Kosovo stands in the implementation of the laws and how they respect child rights.
While Mr. Sazan Ibrahimi – Executive Director of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities talked about the problem of financing social services in the municipality. “Usually the transfer of competencies from the central to the local level must be accompanied by the transfer of the budget. Rather than investing in comfort at the central level, it is best that this investment is done for the needs of citizens at the municipal level,” said Mr. Ibrahimi.
Secretary of the Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities Mr. Aziz Nishori said that during the period 2000 – 2015 there have been improvements, but that is not enough. ” There is a need for close cooperation between the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Finance, which are key ministries to advance issues related to children with disabilities “.
KOMF Coalition believes that the current situation of children with disabilities needs immediate intervention, through the following actions:
– The Kosovo Government should invest by prioritizing the protection of children with disabilities by allocating the necessary budget for the implementation of policies, laws and strategies in the health sector, social welfare and education;
– The Ministry of Health should provide quality health services and auxiliary equipment to be provided for children with disabilities;
– Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should begin amendment of law for material support for families who have children with disabilities. The law should have comprehensive protection, including children with partial disabilities;
– Municipalities according to their legal mandate should develop social services based in the community for children with disabilities. The establishment of day care centers is a fundamental need for treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of children with disabilities;
– The Ministry of Education and municipalities need to focus on the inclusion of all children with disabilities in the education system. They must invest in increasing the quality of inclusive education, through increased of professional staff and increasing the number of teachers;
– The Ministry of Infrastructure and Municipalities should remove barriers to public access, transport, communication, information so that children with disabilities have access to education and proper social life thereby reducing isolation and dependence;
– The Members of the Assembly within the relevant working committees should focus in monitoring the implementation of laws affecting children with disabilities and require accountability towards the Government and Municipalities, thus representing and protecting the best interests of children with disabilities;
– The Agency of Statistics should come up with accurate statistics of children with disabilities, in order to have concrete planning and intervention programs.