Children from Migrants’ Families in Bosnia-Herzegovina are especially Vulnerable


In 2019, some 29,200 refugees and migrants were registered by national authorities- 20 percent more than in 2018.

As of December, around 7,350 people, including nearly 1,182 children1 remained in Bosnia and Herzegovina, primarily in Una Sana canton. The closure of the highly dangerous Vucjak camp was major positive development during the last quarter of 2019.

Yet, the severe lack of appropriate accommodation, including for unaccompanied children and other vulnerable groups, has left an estimated 3,550 refugees and migrants in informal settlements and/or private accommodation with limited access to services amidst winter conditions.

Throughout 2019, UNICEF sustained the provision of child protection services and mobile outreach teams and enhanced child protection standards in six locations (Salakovac, Usivak, Borici, Bira, Sedra and Miral) to ensure the continuous availability of psychosocial support and recreational activities for children on the move of all ages.

This includes 178 girls and 1,004 boys, of whom 113 are 0-4 years old, 140 are 5-9 years old, 195 are 10-14 years old and 734 are 15-17 years old. There were also 640 unaccompanied children (all boys).

Some 4,000 children benefitted from services in child-friendly spaces and youth centres, while a total of 2,740 UASC (all boys) benefitted from 24/7 care and protection services in the reception centres of Bira and Borici in Bihac, Sedra in Cazin and Usivak in Sarajevo, as well as the newly-established safe zone for UASC in Miral, Velika Kladusa.

Of them, 1,751 UASC also benefitted from the timely appointment of legal guardians by the centres for social welfare in Bihac, Cazin, Velika Kladusa, and Hadzici.

UNICEF supported these centres for social welfare with additional capacity, as well as training on child safeguarding, case management, best interests’ assessment and guardianship.

UNICEF continuous support to the Ministries of Education in Una Sana and Sarajevo Cantons led to the successful enrolment of nearly 500 refugee and migrant children in local primary public schools.

While obstacles with the enrolment of secondary school-age children in public schools remained, UNICEF ensured provision of structured non-formal education and recreational activities for all children in the reception system through Child-Friendly Spaces and designated zones for UASC, benefitting nearly 2,200 children and adolescents. A total of 738 children also received individual education materials. UNICEF also trained a total of 100 teachers on inclusive education and social justice.

While UNICEF has been gradually handing over direct health and nutrition service provision to national authorities, it continues to provide technical assistance and advocate for more sustainable integration of breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding into the national refugee and migrant response.

As part of these efforts, during the last quarter of 2019 UNICEF with partners released a publication on mother and baby care for non-specialists, and helped identify good practices for the referral and assistance of severe mental health cases among children on the move.

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