The National Network for Children sent on July 28, 2014 an open letter to the President, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, Political parties: Bulgarian Socialist Party, GERB, Movement for rights and freedoms and the Reformist bloc, Agency for social assistance, State Agency for child protection, the Mayor of Stara Zagora, National association of municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), UNICEF – Bulgaria and the European Commission on the need of urgent engagement with the resolving of the crisis situation in Stara Zagora and finding a permanent solution for children and their families.
We strongly insist on the development of a national policy to deal with the housing problem of disadvantaged families, legislative mechanism to resolve such situations and a resourced plan for a drastic reduction of the number of children living on the streets or in illegal constructions.
The demolition of the buildings in the Roma neighborhood in Stara Zagora explodes the confidence in the Bulgarian society and institutions. The responsibility of the state and society at this time includes to make children visible and to not allow them to pay the price of conflict between parents and institutions.
The life in institutions can lead to serious consequences for children (1) who have grown up in them. Considering the effects of placing children in institutions and the efforts, which Bulgaria takes in the deinstitutionalization process, supported by European Structural Funds and the national budget, we believe it is unacceptable the created crisis by the institutions to lead to the placement of children in institutions.
As an emergency measure we insist on creating an inter-institutional and multidisciplinary team who will plan and address the situation in Stara Zagora correctly.
We join the recommendations of the coalition “A Decent Home” to prevent similar situations in the future by changing the approach of local authorities and National Construction Control Agency to implement preventive controls to stop illegal construction and take action to facilitate and support legal development for people from vulnerable groups.
In conclusion, we call upon the responsible institutions, including the Agency for Social Assistance, the State Agency for Child Protection, the political parties and the caretaker government to be formed, not only to support effectively the local government in solving the case, but also to create tools for analysis and systematization, which will allow the next government to review and significantly improve the current regulatory framework.
National Network for Children remains available and predictable partner for finding a permanent solution to the issue and to defend the best interests of children as a starting point in the process.
1. Effects of institutionalization of children, European Expert Group on the issue of transition from institutional care to community care (2012), Common European guidelines for the transition from institutional care to community care.
Translator: Kristiyana Ognyanova, intern