Kukës Region is one of 12 administrative districts of Albania bordering in East with the Republic of Kosovo, in West with Shkodra district, in North with Montenegro and in South with the district of Diber and partly with that of Lezha (Mirdite) . Kukës Region is composed of 27 local units of which 24 communes and 3 municipalities.
The administrative, political, economic and cultural center of the region is the town of Kukës. At the end of 2010, the population of the region was 109,732 inhabitants. (according to the General Directorate of Civil Registration). According to Kukës Social Service there are 26.406 families in the region for 2011, of which 12.269 receiving economic aid and which have benefited a total of 584,500,000 ALL per year in the form of economic aid.
In Kukës Region the average age of the population is pretty young. Children aged 0-18 years old constitute 34.5% of the total population of the Region (37.933 inhabitants).
There is a general novel spirit in institutions for considering the problems of children in the various state institutions where the problems of children are discussed. This indicates an increased awareness of local institutions in terms of recognition of the rights of children. However, a lot needs to be done in oder to handle these problems in an institutional manner.
In 2011, the Children's Rights Unit was embedded in the structure of the Regional Council in the Department of Regional Services according the law No. 10347. In 2008, in Kukës Municipality was established the Child and Family Protection Unit. In 2011 the Municipality of Bajram Curri set up service for children with disabilities and their families. Likewise Surroj Commune, Krumë Municipality, Bicaj Commune and Fierzë Commune, earlier this year (2012), have issued the relevant decisions for the establishment of offices for child protection under the law 10347.
But nevertheless, poverty, poor quality of education and health services, remain phenomena that affect significantly the violation of children's rights, in the region of Kukës.
The quality of teaching has declined, especially after changing the education system from the 8-year system to the 9-year one. School remains hostage to frequent reforms that instead of improving the situation, often lead to deterioration. Schools are equipped with computer labs but we must stress that in most schools they are not functional due to misuse, lack of energy, lack of relevant education and teachers and also due to theft of equipment.
Most of the children belong to families which benefit from the national economic aid. The number of family members who benefit from economic aid constitutes 71% of the overall population of the region (80.302 persons belonging to 12.269 beneficiary families).
There are many children who are engaged in seasonal work, especially in the countryside, which affects both child health (due to different temperatures) and their school attendance.
Roma children are concentrated in the city of Kukës. They constitute a group that came from other districts, such as Krujë and Fier. It is known that Roma families schemes use to beg, every spring they establish themselves in Kukës and the members of these families (Roma) use their children to beg in the streets of Kosovo during the day, while at night they come back to Kukës.
Social services are focused entirely on the Municipality of Kukës. As it regards the other local units of Kukës Region, there are no such services except an office for services (where there is only one contact person) in the Municipality of Bajram Curri for children with disabilities and their family. Anyway it is claimed that it plays the role of the unit of child protection in Bajram Curri.
After the release of law no. 10,347 in 2010, there has been a very high progress in terms of recognizing and protecting the rights of children from various associations. From observations made in the field, the general local government has not planned any funds especially for children, but only funds to provide essential services for economic aid, the cost of repairs and other expenses stationary for education, health, culture, etc.
Observatory is a structure of civil society established in Kukës Region in 2008, which aimes to collect information from all national and local institutions and study the situation of the implementation of children's rights in national and regional levels.
Its main responsibilities are:
Children's Rights Unit (CRU) in the Regional Council of Kukës was established within the framework of the Regional Council in 2006.
It has the following responsibilities:
Child Protection Office in the Municipality of Kukës was set within the administrative structure of the social services Kukës Municipality in 2007, as a pilot project funded by UNICEF on the basis of which it has been extended to other regions of Albania. In 2009 with the support of UNICEF it was re-incorporated into the child and family Protection Unit. This is because during field work we understood that the role of the family for the education of children is very significant and this is why the family can not be treated as separated from the family. A part of children's problems stem from the instability of families, violence generated in the family due to poverty and lack of resources for family maintenance.
Its responsibilities are:
Prepared by: Shkëlqim Muça,
Expert, Observatory for Children's Rights, Kukës