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The City of Bijeljina

First Shelter for Children to Open Next Year in Bijeljina

​Mayor Ljubiša Petrović signed a Agreement on mutual relations between Caritas Switzerland and the City of Bijeljina regarding the construction of a Shelter for Children At-Risk. Caritas will provide financial support in the amount of 200,000 convertible marks for this project.
The City Department of Social Affairs has collected the necessary documentation for issuing a building permit and developing the main design with an approximate value of around BAM 30,000. It has also carried out a public procurement for the first phase of constructing the Shelter, following which a contract worth BAM 111,237.45 including VAT was signed. Within Phase I, 15,000 euros in grant funds were expended, which the City received from the Council of Europe. The Shelter will accommodate around twenty children and will play a crucial role in providing support and protection to children who lack appropriate parental care or are exposed to various forms of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. This will include necessary medical and psychological support, education, social assistance, and help in finding lasting solutions to the problems faced by this vulnerable population group.
“This is the result of years of efforts by the City Administration, the Social Welfare Centre, and other relevant municipal institutions, as well as the Prosecution, Judiciary, the Association Otaharin, and others who, even before my mandate, emphasized the need for such a social institution for children. We are grateful to our longstanding partner, Caritas Switzerland, as well as the Council of Europe, and this is a new opportunity for us to jointly excel in the field of social protection. The Shelter will be a fully equipped functional unit, adapted for 24-hour care of children, with permanent security, professionals from social and medical fields, and all accompanying facilities for socialization. We are the first local community with such a concept of social protection that will ensure that children at-risk are protected from neglect, abuse, begging, and street life as early as the end of next year. Together, we will strive for a more organized and humane society and provide all children with the opportunity to enjoy a happy childhood,” Mayor Petrović stated, adding that he expects the Shelter to be fully completed and equipped by 2025, with both interior and exterior arrangements.
The total projected value of the facility is BAM 750,000, and the City has allocated or will allocate a total of BAM 500,000 in budgets for the years 2023, 2024, and 2025.
During the foundation stone laying ceremony, Anna Goos from Caritas Switzerland expressed her great honour and satisfaction to be part of such a project.
“I believe this is a crucial investment in the future because children are the future, and the most we can do is creating a just society for them to integrate into. I consider this foundation stone to be something that no future winds of change, whether political or economic, will be able to turn in the wrong direction. That's why we are happy and grateful for the cooperation of the City of Bijeljina and the NGO Otaharin, which is our partner in this project,” emphasized Goos.
Ombudsman for Children, Jovanka Vuković, stated that the Shelter for Children At-Risk will provide a very valuable social service to children in need.
“Children who are forced to beg, who are without proper parental care and those living in poverty must have some form of social care to prevent them from ending up on the streets and to enable them to exercise all the rights guaranteed to them by the United Nations Convention. However, the Shelter should not be seen as a place of confinement but rather as a temporary solution lasting from three to six months, or until the child can be returned to an appropriate family environment,” concluded Vuković.