Roberto De Bernardi, UNICEF representative in Albania, in an exclusive interview for Deutsche Welle (DW) spoke about the situation of children and the challenges that must be faced in order for them to benefit from basic human rights.
DW: De Bernardi, how would you describe the situation of children in Albania?
The situation of children in Albania is the total mirror of the situation in the country. Albania has made great progress over the last 20 years. However, there is still a lot to do.
The same could be said for children, there has been progress. For example, the infant mortality rate which showed a great decrease and the elementary education that is now frequented by practically all children.
However, even here, there is still so much to do, as in the quality of education especially in some districts of the country. How to do it for all those children who have disabilities or who live in isolated areas of the country and who have difficulty in following their educational path. To help these children there is a need for great support from the state.
DW: What are the biggest challenges to face so that children can fully benefit from basic human rights?
There are a number of challenges to be faced. Let's go back to the installation of children with disabilities or who live in isolated areas: the ministry of education has made numerous efforts so that they can benefit from a support teacher and stay so in class with their peers.
However, there are still not enough support teachers or, in other cases, teachers are not adequately prepared for the case. The child defense teams that must work in the 61 Albanian districts, in some cases have lack of personnel or lack of qualified personnel.
DW: Is there any UNICEF initiative for children to get out of state institutions and live this way with their biological or non-biological family? Because these children lack the affection of a family.
In state institutions, in addition to children with disabilities there are also others, who represent the majority. Therefore, they are not only orphans, but also children whose parents do not have the financial capacity to make them grow.
Of course, this is never the best choice because it is much better for them to grow up in their family. Recently, the health ministry, UNICEF and 'Save The Children', signed a memorandum of understanding to officially start the process of removing children from state institutions and repatriating them to their families.
Initially, 230 will be children living in 9 state institutions. A monitoring system will have to be implemented after the children leave these institutions.
DW: What is the most difficult problem to deal with?
The emigration of children and young people under the 18 years. A considerable number want to leave Albania and represent the potential emigrants of the future. I think this happens because they don't see life prospects in the country. This perception must necessarily change.
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