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Sarajevo, 1 October 2013 - The United Nations International Day of Older Persons is marked annually on 1st of October in order to recognize the contributions of older persons and to examine issues that affect their lives. Population ageing is a celebration. Increasing longevity is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Increasing numbers of older persons require health care and economic security.

Although the exact figure will be known after the Census that starts today, it is estimated that in Bosnia and Herzegovina population aged 65 and above make 14.19 percent of total population. Expenditures on pensions are in an average of 10.3% of the GDP. However, around 60% of people above the age of 65 are not covered through regular old-age pension benefits or any other scheme such as in rural population, farmers, etc. This low coverage represents a serious social problem for BiH, making this population vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion. With political commitment, proper planning and appropriate policies these challenges can be overcome and society can obtain the benefits population ageing.

Doina Bologa, UNFPA Country Director for BiH, Serbia, Kosovo and FYR Macedonia stated: “The elderly people are faced with income insecurity, low pensions, limited access to health care and social protection as well as social isolation, which creates inter-generational tension since expectations of each population group are not being met – some major developments need to take place to increase inter-generational solidarity in order that entire population live better and face less insecurities and more opportunities. Specific actions focusing on the needs of elderly must be implemented to improve their lives and enhance the fulfillment of their rights and to get recognition for their contribution to development”, concluded Ms. Bologa.

Dr Milorad Zivkovic, Chairman of the BiH Parliamentary Group on Population and Development said that intergenerational tension, due to the longer working life and greater sacrifices of the population, can lead to increased abuse and neglect of older persons, both in the frequency of these events, as well as the complexity and obscurity. Creating a proper social structure of institutions, incentives and raising awareness of the population, it will enable older people to live active and safe lifestyle. To overcome the phenomenon of abuse and neglect, we needed not only the state, but also regional, sub-regional and international connections and cooperation of institutions.

The UNFPA office in BiH together with Parliamentary Group on Population and Development BiH, Network » Za dostojanstveno starenje« and HelpAge International commend the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees who has started activities relating to Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA) for developing framework policy for elderly in BiH with support of UNFPA in BiH who will continue with to support with technical and financial assistance until the Policy for elderly in BiH is developed.