German organization Help and the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights have awarded certificates, and Help has signed one-year employment contracts with mediators who have completed training for Roma and Egyptian (RE) social inclusion mediators in the areas of health, social protection and employment.
Frieda Wuenschmann, Human Rights Adviser at the EU Delegation in Podgorica, who has recently arrived to Montenegro and has worked in many countries in Western Balkan and therefore feels like “at home”, said that she was very pleased that the EU decided to finance this project together with the Government of Montenegro with half a million euros.
Forty-three (43) mediators have received training for health care, social care and employment, while 38 of them have received certificates and will be active in 11 Montenegrin municipalities in the next year.
“This project which is implemented by our partner NGO Help – is another demonstration of our long-term commitment to support Montenegro in the full integration of the Roma-Egyptian population. It is also important to comment on Montenegro’s efforts to include and integrate women and children of other cultures into education, the media and local institutions. This is very important for the process of accession negotiations of Montenegro. The work of Roma-Egyptian mediators is designed to ensure better communication and cooperation between the RE community and the Montenegrin authorities, and is based on the best practices that Help has developed through previous projects” Wuenschmann said.
The EU Human Rights Adviser believes that it is very important that the mediators are mostly from the RE community, because of their knowledge of language, culture and history. According to Wuenschmann, it is important that this model be applied throughout the country. The work of mediators will improve access to health care, employment and labor market programs and measures, as well as health care programs for Roma and Egyptians.
She has said that the Government and institutions should systematize jobs for mediators – in the work of local and state bodies.
Bojan Božović, Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, emphasized that the Ministry is the beneficiary institution of this project. He thanked the EU for the allocated funds, which have been complemented with funds from the Government of Montenegro.
“I want to emphasize that this project is in line with the commitment of the Government of Montenegro and the Ministry of Law and Human and Minority Rights to create and implement policy for faster and full social inclusion, as well as the improvement of the economic situation of Roma and Egyptians,” said Božović.
He has reminded us that the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptians (2021-2025) has been adopted in September, with specific tasks in each area. This strategy is in line with EU standards for Roma protection.
“Activities in it are exactly planned for greater inclusion of associates in the social inclusion of Roma and Egyptian men and women in all areas of life. I am glad that we have already reached the stage in this project, of having trained mediators for social inclusion. Your work will be very important in the communication between the RE community and our institutions, and I am sure that you will try to overcome all barriers that exist to better inform the Roma-Egyptian population about their rights, which are clearly defined by the legislative framework” Božović said.
Dijamant Pajazitaj, who is mediator at Help and already has many years of mediation experience, but also as someone who went through this certified training, has thanked the EU and the Government of Montenegro for supporting Help’s idea. He thanked the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights for their support in motivating young people from the RE population to get involved in this project and complete the training.
“My involvement in Help over the past four years has shown that, as much as our population needs us, so do the institutions. Because we haven’t been only helping our community, at the same time we had helped the institutions and made their work easier. I am especially happy that we have created a network in 11 municipalities” said Pajazitaj.
On behalf of the mediator, Nedmedin Šalja also thanked:
Project coordinator Dijana Anđelić has explained that this is a joint project of the European Union and the Government of Montenegro “Social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians through mediation “, which is implemented within the program of European Union and Montenegro for employment, education and social protection.
“The goal of the project is for trained mediators in social inclusion to provide assistance to the citizens of the Roma and Egyptian population in exercising their rights in the areas of social and health care, as well as employment,” Anđelić has said.
The project is being implemented by “Help”, which will be the employer of mediators in the next year – in partnership with the municipalities of Podgorica, Ulcinj and Berane.
The contracts with mediators have been signed by Klaus Mock, the Regional Coordinator of Help, who expressed satisfaction that this institute – which Help had introduced for several years, has been recognized as important for further integration of the RE population in Montenegro, as well as that it had received the support of Montenegrin institution and the EU.