Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection – KOMF, through a press conference launched the advocacy platform “Friends of Children”.

“Friends of Children” is an advocacy platform composed of personalities with a successful career from fields such as diplomacy, art, culture, sport, etc, which will help to raise awareness and promote child protection in Kosovo, aiming to sensitize the relevant institutions as well as the wide public, on the importance of child protection and long term investment in children.

Donjeta Kelmendi, Executive Director of KOMF, held the opening speech providing some statistics over the situation of children: “The most recent data that Kosovo institutions possess, highlight a child poverty rate of 32.8 percent compared to 29.7 percent which is the poverty rate for the overall population. 10.7 percent of children in Kosovo are involved in labour while 6.8 percent of them work in hazardous conditions. 61.4 percent of children up to 14 years old have suffered physical and psychological violence. Children with disabilities do not fully enjoy their right in education, health and social welfare. Around 10 percent of children benefit from quality services including education, health and social services”.

“Friends of Children” who gave their messages at this press conference;
Mr. Samuel Zbogar, Head of the European Union Office in Kosovo
Her Excellency Mrs. Angelika Viets, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kosovo
His Excellency Mr. Jan Braathu, Ambassador of Norway in Kosovo
His Excellency Mr. Qemal Minxhozi, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania in Kosovo
His Excellency Mr. Ruairi O’Connell, Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Kosovo
Ms. Rona Nishliu, Singer, Albania’s best result to date, at the Eurovision song contest
Ms. Kaltrina Krasniqi, Flautist at Kosovo Philharmony
Mr. Alban Selimi, Journalist, winner of several prices on child protection
Ms. Eliza Hoxha, Singer and Architect
Mr. Eshref Durmishi, Producer and actor of “Shok”, nominated for Oscar

The Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, Mr. Samuel Zbogar, stated to be very happy to join this initiative which promotes child rights: “Through this cooperation we ensure that children are treated as equal members of the society. Children have a special position in our society. We have noticed improvements of the legal framework, but still I consider that there even more can be done in child protection, especially protection of children of minorities”, highlighted Mr. Zbogar.

The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mrs. Angelika Viets, declared that child protection is a responsibility of adults. Adults are the ones who influence the protection of the rights of children. On the other side, lack of the development of health and education is a key issue in protecting the rights of children.

While the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Kosovo, Mr. Ruairi O’Conell, said that children are the present and the future of Kosovo, and it is very important to join this kind of initiatives.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Albania in Kosovo, Mr. Qemail Minxhozi highlighted that majority of the population of Kosovo are young people: “What Kosovo authorities should do, is an increased attention toward these young people. Our society must have a higher interest on the development of children”.

The Ambassador of Norway in Kosovo, Mr. Jan Braathu, emphasized that Kosovo is in a transition phase which will enable a better treatment for children: “I want to congratulate the Friends of Children because it is a very good example of caring for the society, and it is a very good thing that we can see this for children. I hope that government will see this initiative as cooperation”.

Rona Nishliu stated: “I am very enthusiastic to be part of this panel, as a friend of children. Children are innocent, they are the best, and they are the future of the country. Every day we hear of different cases related to child exploitation and we are aware that many of them do not even have enough food to eat. Children have rights and they are universal. This initiative will intensify the efforts in realisation of child rights”.

Among others, Alban Selimi stressed: “As a journalist working since a long time in the health sector, taking in consideration the very low investment for the health of children – I joined this cause without any doubts. I see this as an opportunity to advocate and play a focal role in pushing forward issues related to children, especially their health”.

Eliza Hoxha said that children need to be cared about so that they can grow healthy and equally. We need to ask ourselves what we should do, in order to create the needed environment so that they can have a better life.

Kaltrina Krasniqi, congratulated KOMF for the initiative undertaken to establish this platform: “I consider this initiative, very necessary to make children, child protection related issues, their wellbeing and rights, a priority in Kosovo”.

Even though he was not physically present, the producer Eshref Durmishi sent a video message where he appreciates the platform and its mission: “I accepted with a pleasure to become part of the Friends of Children in order to influence issues related to the protection of children and the protection of their rights in Kosovo”.

At the closure of the event, the Friends of Children in a symbolic way, signed the Statement of Commitment in frame of the platform “Friends of Children”.