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Saveta Dubak Tomović

Eye to eye facts and figures on the life of children in western balkans

“Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.”

Associated with a history of ethnic divisiveness and political upheaval, the term “Balkans” is often put off with negative connotations. The Western Balkans usually comprises Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.

The failure of some of these countries to become a part of the EU is often attributed to its non-competitiveness and low productivity, with many questioning if the countries would be able to bridge the gap in the coming years.

Poverty is one of the widespread phenomena in almost all Western Balkans countries, with a recession hitting Croatia in 2015 leading to a 50% increase in poverty among kids, which has not managed to lower even now. Even in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 15% of the population faces deprivation of basic amenities like hygiene, sanitation, etc., including kids.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has almost 24 “orphanage-like” institutions, as per a study conducted in 2010, as the country has managed not to do any census lately. In addition, Bosnia has roughly 2,000 children in orphanages, with unofficial estimates of orphans almost double this number.

Amidst this terrible situation, people have time and again said that the orphans had been miserably failed by a dysfunctional state that is least bothered about its most vulnerable citizens. Charity workers often accuse the government of not looking into such institutions where many children live.

Nearly 80% of children with disabilities were reported in 2014, up from 62.5% in 2012. Bulgaria’s population of orphans was approximately 7,500 in 2010, which dropped to fewer than 1,200 in 2017. EU has been reported to provide millions of dollars to Romanian child-welfare reforms.

Data by BIRN obtained as of 2018 has shown that more than 160 migrants and refugees currently residing in the Balkans are either unaccompanied children or those children who have separated from their parents.

If we talk about education, it has only been partially successful in the Balkan countries. Infrastructure in 9 Western Balkan countries remains poor. With this, human resources often struggle with low wages, lack of self-development, etc. There has also been a noticeable dropout due to poverty, infrastructure, and other reasons.

To sum up, the Balkan region has been the most impoverished European area in the last decade, with a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line. This severely affects the lives of children living in orphanages, restricting them to adapt to normal life and have the basic necessities.




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