Located on the Balkan Peninsula in south-east Europe, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to 3.3 million people, including around 99,000 internally displaced persons and 18,000 refugees.
Around 49% of the population lives in urban centres while 51% of the population lives in rural areas.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is experiencing one of the most rapidly shrinking and ageing populations in the world. The main reason for this is that many families and young people are emigrating in search of better opportunities for themselves and their children.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1998.
At 16%, unemployment is high in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Consequently, 17% of the population lives in poverty.
Children are disproportionately affected, with around 20% living in poverty.
In addition, approximately 50% of the population are at risk of falling below the poverty line, with 74% of children facing material deprivation. As a result, children in these families live precariously on the margins of society.
While access to primary education and secondary education is high, early childhood education is not available to all children.
At 25% preschool enrolment (children aged 3 to 6 years) is the lowest in Europe, with vulnerable children less able to access early education.
Early childhood education can be particularly beneficial for children growing up in poverty. It improves their social and cognitive development, and promotes their social inclusion.
More than half of children under 15 experience violent forms of discipline, with 40% subjected to physical punishment and 42% to psychological aggression.
In addition, the country has one of the highest incidence rates of children’s exposure to sexual violence, with 19% of 11-16 years olds having already experienced sexual contact.
The impact of violence on children can be profound, leaving them with a range of both physical and emotional harm.