The thematic meeting of the Children’s Right Ombudsperson’s Network in Southeast Europe (CRONSEE), dedicated to “children on the move”, was held in Zagreb on 5 November 2013. The meeting was organised in cooperation with Save the Children International.
With this assembly the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children of the Republic of Croatia initiated a number of activities for marking the 10 anniversary of its existence as an independent institution for the protection and promotion of children’s rights. The thematic meeting of the Assembly of Ombudspersons for Children in Southeast Europe provided the opportunity to the assembled experts to openly speak out about problems and exchange experiences in order to jointly seek more efficient ways for solving them.
The media also reported on some of the emphases of the meeting which additionally helped raising awareness about the problem of “children on the move” in Southeast Europe.
Apart from ombudspersons for the children of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Republika Srpska, Slovenia, Serbia, Vojvodina and Croatia, the representatives of Save the Children International and regional NGOs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Social Policy
and Youth, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Republic of Croatia as well as representatives of all ombudsperson institutions in Croatia, also participated in the work of the expert meeting.
On that occasion, they underlined the problems which are almost identical in all countries of the region: insufficient and inadequate accommodation capacities; insufficient number of experts; undeveloped network of guardians for special cases; difficulties related to language barriers, cultural and religious differences etc.
– We are aware that the solution of the problem of children in migrations is neither easy nor simple, that it requires time and significant financial resources, but also a clear goal, will and enthusiasm in order to achieve the goal. As ombudspersons for children, we have to particularly fight against the bureaucratic approach which wants to mould children into legal norms and “boxes“ and often tends to delegate responsibility to others – said the Croatian ombudsperson for children Mila Jelavić. – We need to explicitly demand more understanding and engagement and implicitly more respect for children on the move – alongside a safe home, adequate clothes, medical services and satchels. Children migrants must not only be part of statistics, numbers without a face and name, but first of all children we need to help and protect. I am confident that, after this meeting, all participants of the thematic meeting in Zagreb, will have a clearer vision of mutual cooperation and personal responsibility for achieving this task, which was its goal– she concluded.