Interview: Unlocking funding for DI in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Opening_Doors-BiH-interview

Earlier this month our national partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted a written contribution to the consultation on the IPA II Country Strategy Paper for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Read a short interview with our National Coordinator, Aleksandra Babic-Golubovic, Hope and Homes for Children Bosnia and Herzegovina, and click the link at the bottom to read our contribution.

What is the current situation with IPA funding?

Negotiations between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been deadlocked for a very long time due to failure of local politicians to fulfill conditions set by the Eurpean Commission. However a breakthrough has been achieved in the past few months with programming for 2014 now starting along with consultations with the civil society. We are now campaigning to ensure Deinstitutionalisation (DI) is included in the the IPA Country Strategy Paper 2014-2017.

How important is this funding for Deinstitutionalisation in Bosnia Herzegovina?

Its importance cannot be underestimated. Commitment of entity governments to DI of alternative care is in place – high level strategies and policies have been put in place supporting the transition from institutional to family-based care.  Individual DI projects have also been initiated in several cantons with the support of HHC and legislation is being drafted to support this process (e.g. on fostering).  However, significant additional funding is required for truly comprehensive reform to take place in the entire country and on all levels, and local budgets have no capacity for this. IPA is one of the main, if not the most important, possible sources of funding needed to cover the capital investments and transitional costs associated with the systemic reform, so it is vital the political deadlock is starting to be overcome.

Has this been achieved elsewhere in the region?

Serbia, Croatia, and Montenegro have all benefited from IPA funding targeting the reform of their child protection systems.  All these countries have comprehensive DI strategies in place and are in different stages of the process. In Serbia, in particular, fostering has been significantly developed (including specialised fostering), allowing more than half of children without parental care to be moved from institutions. However, institutionalisation of children with disabilities remains an issue and a top priority in all these countries, as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What can the EU do now to help children, while this process is ongoing?

The EU can and should place stronger emphasis on all groups of disadvantaged children in its negotiations with BiH authorities and in the conditions it places upon them as part of the EU accession process, as well as through monitoring of BiH’s progress on the path to EU integration (e.g. through country progress reports).  It could also reflect more strongly its commitment to children’s rights by prioritising them more explicitly in IPA II planning documents, particularly when it comes to children in care.

Read our written contribution  to the IPA II Country Strategy Paper for Bosnia and Herzegovina.