Useless papers for protecting vulnerable social categories

Sh.D is a citizen with special needs who has left Kosovo two years ago due to inadequate conditions for people of her category. She says that in the European country where she emigrated she feels like not having any special need. The state offers very good conditions and her physical limitation is not a burden at all.

Kosovo has a law and a ten year National Strategy (2013-2023) for people with special needs. If we refer to the legislation (paperwork), it looks like everything is regulated at its best. Yet, it takes only a look beyond the surface to see the extent to which people with special needs are supported in reality. Challenges and problems for this category are encountered immediately.

The lack of ramps to provide access in all buildings, such as institutions or commercial ones, is enough to prove that the situation in the field must be improved immediately.

The biggest irony is that when the Strategy 2013-2023 talks about the rights of people with special needs, it states that “The purpose of this convention is to promote, protect, and ensure full and equal enjoyment of all fundamental human rights and liberties from all persons with special needs, and to contribute to their respect and inherent dignity.” Furthermore, it states that the strategy will serve as a catalyst for the creation of more effective, sustainable, and coordinated policies in the field of the rights of persons with special needs. The text continues: “This document pursues the improvement of the current condition in these fields: Health; Social Welfare; Employment; Education; Legal Protection; Participation; Information; Communication, Access and Statistics…” It is also written that the strategy will serve as a guideline for the Institutions of the Republic of Kosova to work under non-discrimination principles, by respecting the inherent dignity, individual autonomy, improvement of wellbeing and quality of life, full and effective participation, and social inclusion. The acceptance of people with special needs is considered as a social value

After many “sweet” words, the peak of self-praising is achieved when the strategy states “This proves once more that the policy making for people with special needs in the Republic of Kosova is based on international standards including the fundamental principles of human rights, such as, protection and non-discriminating principles”.

In the meantime, representatives of persons with special needs state that it’s been two years since they identified buildings and institutions in which they do not have access. However, even after this work, not much has been done. “New buildings are an exception, as it seems, are being obliged from municipal structures to build ramps for persons with special needs” states Sh.K.

As it was reported previously on the forum of “Support for Social Partners” project, there are hospitals in the University Clinical Center which do not have ramps for persons with special needs. One of these is the Infective Clinic, in which not only the access in the building, but also the transportation of patients in different parts of the clinic is problematic.

Complaints of representatives of persons with special needs are almost daily in the public media.  “It’s not that there is no progress in the improvement of the conditions”, says M.S another person with special needs. However, he claims that “the pace of improvement very slow”.

Naturally, the municipality of Prishtina is the most impacted in this matter, but other municipalities are not entirely exempted either.

The mother of a five year old from Prishtina was complaining these days in written media for the lack of a kindergarten for children with special needs. She stated that she is obliged to pay an employee more than 200 euros per month to take care of her child, as she could not risk losing her job.

Meanwhile, the representative of an association that deals with children of this category stated that she has raised the issue of building a kindergarten for these children since 1995; however, until today this has not happened.  

The situation is very difficult for this group; it is obligatory for institutions to, at least, start addressing the improvement of infrastructure. This category of citizens should feel equal with the others and should have the chance to realize its life potential - to move freely, to work, and to have a dignified life.

Since Kosovo aspires to be part of Europe and to be equal with other developed states, its chosen representatives and professionals must do everything so as to respect the international conventions for persons with special needs.

What experts put on paper should be made possible in practice. Otherwise, we as a society will fail.

 

Emine Klaiqi
Pristina, April 2015