Albania: Promises to orphans should be a serious commitment

On the eve of Albania’s Nationals Orphan’s Day on the 20th of May, Amnesty International called upon the government due to be elected in on the end of June to honour the country’s promises to improve provisions for its orphans.

The main priority is to ensure that students who have been raised in state orphanages, and who are due to finish middle school shortly are granted their right to housing and employment, as granted by Albanian law.

Albanian orphans spend their middle school years living in school dormitories.  When they finish school in a few weeks, many will have nowhere to go.  Without the support that the authorities are required by law to provide, they are extremely vulnerable. They risk following in the steps of many of their predecessors: stigmatised, socially excluded, living in poverty and sharing rooms in squalid, dilapidated buildings (see Amnesty International’s report Albania: ‘No place to call home’ – adult orphans and the right to housing, AI Index EUR 11/005/2007).

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Albanian constitution guarantee orphans protection and assistance provided by the state.  Amnesty International notes, however, that the protection and assistance offered by the Albanian state to orphan students when they leave orphanages at the age of 14 or 15 years is generally insufficient, often leading to poor grades and to students dropping out of school.

Amnesty International has called on the authorities to ensure continuity of protection and assistance for all these children until they reach adulthood at 18 years, and if necessary, beyond that age.

The situation of orphan students deteriorates even further when they complete middle school and face adult life without the prospect of adequate housing or employment. They must be granted their right to adequate housing, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Albania is a state party, which stipulates that ‘Disadvantaged groups must be accorded full and sustainable access to adequate housing resources’.

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