140 Roma families in Tuzla, Zenica, Bijeljina, Gračanica, Zavidovići, Kakanj, Banovići, Modriča and Brčko will have better living conditions. Provision of housing units for Roma families is the result of the second phase of the Roma Action project, which was presented at the final conference held on 23 October 2018 in Sarajevo.
This phase of the Roma Action project was aimed at providing support to social inclusion of vulnerable Roma families in flood-hit areas through provision of housing units and socio-economic measures with the active participation of state and local governments and other stakeholders.
Reconstructed houses or newly-constructed social housing buildings were provided to 140 Roma families with 652 family members, of whom at least 320 are children. The project has improved the living conditions of more than 200 Roma families through infrastructure interventions, and enhanced economic inclusion of Roma through the promotion of civil registration, access to education, employment and health care.
“I had a chance to see on the ground the concrete results of this project and talk to the beneficiaries who for the first time got a decent roof over their heads. The Roma continue to face numerous difficulties, lack of jobs, education and health care. Because of that the European Union has invested additional efforts to facilitate their integration in society,” said Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative in BiH. He expressed his satisfaction with the fact that local communities, CSOs and BiH institutions at all levels had worked together on this project and said that this was the only way one could achieve positive results on the ground.
Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Semiha Borovac said: “This is extremely significant support worth more than BAM 5.5 million. I very much appreciate the fact that the project focused on the most vulnerable Roma families living in flood-hit areas. We are grateful for the invested funds and the effort made which has very measurable results. We will continue to work jointly in the future to create better living conditions for our citizens, with emphasis on the most vulnerable groups.”
“That is why we very much appreciate and are grateful for the assistance we receive in this segment from our partners, primarily the European Union. The EU thus contributes to raising the standards of living of our citizens, but also raising awareness about the values and importance of European integration which encourages progress in all areas of life and work in our country and in the region whose future is in the European Union”, said Minister Borovac.
HWA Director for BiH Suzana Jašarević pointed out that thanks to funds from the EU and BiH, in partnership with Arbeiter Samariter Bund Deutschland e.V (ASB) and Kali Sara-RIC, more than € 5.8 million worth of aid had been implemented in the two phases of the Action Roma project, permanently improving the living conditions of more than 280 Roma families.
“The Action Plan for addressing Roma issues in the fields of employment, housing and health care for 2017-2020, adopted as a direct result of project activities, has already included the BiH authorities in planning improvements at all levels”, she said.
Minister of Labour, Social Policy and Refugees of the Zenica-Doboj Canton Nurđehan Šahinović thanked the European Union and the implementing agency Hilfswerk Austria International for the excellent cooperation on joint projects aimed at providing housing for displaced persons and returnees, as well as housing for Roma, as one of the most vulnerable groups of citizens. “I expect the good cooperation with the EU and Hilfswerk to continue, in particular as it regards new socio-economic empowerment projects aimed at vulnerable groups. The Zenica-Doboj Canton Government will continue to provide enthusiastic support to the implementation of such important projects”, said Minister Šahinović.
The total value of the second phase of the Roma Action project was more than € 2.8 million, of which the EU provided € 2.5 million, while the remaining funds were provided by local authorities. The project was implemented by Hilfswerk Austria International (HWA) in partnership with Arbeiter Samariter Bund Deutschland e.V (ASB) and the BiH Association Kali Sara – Roma Information Centre.