News Archive 2021

RE mediators are ready to work, the need for their engagement is greater than expected

After the successful training, Help has prepared 38 certified RE mediators for the areas of social protection, employment and health care. According to the coordinator of the project “Social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians through mediation “, Dijana Andjelić, it is now and in accordance with previous experience important to ensure the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation with relevant ministries as soon as possible. This is a precondition for the employment of RE mediators/associates in the social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in the units of the health system, social protection system and employment. The employment of mediators is planned in the municipalities of Bar, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Budva, Cetinje, Herceg Novi, Niksic, Pljevlja, Podgorica, Tivat and Ulcinj for a period of 12 months.

Ms. Anđelić said that the drafts of the Memorandum were forwarded to the competent ministries, but that by the day of the meeting of the Steering Committee (Monday, September 10, 2021), Help had not yet receiveda response.

A well-organized information campaign in cooperation with representatives of Help, Roma Council, the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, the Capital City of Podgorica, the Municipalities of Ulcinj and Berane, as well as the network of RE NGO has resulted in a surprisingly high number of applicants – 83 in total, out of which 38 participated in the program and received a work certificate after completing the training.

Tatjana Anđelić, a representative of the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, pointed out that the institution had numerous praises on the account of the quality of the registered applicants, as well as the subsequent training participants.

According to Anđelić, and based on the previous practice and experience of already engaged RE mediators it was proposed to employ RE-Mediators not only in social work centers, employment offices, health centers and hospitals, but also in the Clinical Hospital Center of Montenegro, Roma Council, as well as the Capital City of Podgorica (through the local office for RE). It was emphasized that if deemed appropriate, RE mediators could also be engaged in ministries’ departments.

The representative of the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Ramiz Šahman, spoke about the role of this project in achieving the results of the Strategy for Social Inclusion of the RE Population (2021-2025). Šahman stated that one of the key focuses during the preparation was the fight against discrimination and anti-Gypsyism – working with the majority community to eradicate these phenomenons. Šahman believes that the work of mediators will contribute to reducing the ethnic distance to the RE population, and he concluded that the project is in line with the objectives of the new strategy.

He believes that the project of social inclusion of RE men and women through mediation will contribute to reducing unemployment, thanks to the engagement of employment mediators and to ensuring the communication with the relevant institutions. Šahman pointed out that 70% of the RE population is unemployed according to recent research. Also, reducing unemployment would significantly contribute to more favorable conditions in the areas of housing, resolving legal status, social and family protection.

According to the ministry’s representatives, the low percentage of the RE population working in state institutions needs special attention. Only 10% of all RE employees work in state institutions, and therefore efforts should be made to improve this. According to available data, 61% of the RE population is employed in the informal sector, while the EU insists that they need to be integrated into the formal sector, and as Šahman has said, mediators can contribute to this.

Šahman supported the idea of engaging mediators in other institutions (Roma Council, Capital City of Podgorica), and to that end suggested the engagement of RE mediators in the Day Center “Defendologija” Niksic and in the Institute for Social and Child Protection of Montenegro.

When asked by the representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development whether the ministries will be obliged to provide permanent employment for mediators after the expiration of the contract with Help, Tatjana Anđelić, the representative of the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, clarified that it will not be the responsibility of ministries, but that it would certainly be good for all ministries to consider institutionalizing these jobs in municipalities where possible.Namely, European Commission, emphasizied the importance of hiring RE mediators to guarantee the sustainablity of the project. However, this will not be possible in all municipalitie.

Anđelić has further clarified that the salaries of mediators, as well as computers, will be provided by the project, but that it would be the obligation of the institutions to provide a physical workplace for mediators, so they can perform their work in the institutions and in cooperation with the employees.

Nina Milović, a representative of the Ministry of Health, has given her thanks for recognizing the contribution of the Ministry in the System of Social Inclusion of the RE-population, and pointed out that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the burden on the health system on the one hand, but also due to delays in budgeting on the other, the ministry could not provide for the institutionalization of more than one mediator position in the action plan 2021. She also stated that immediately after receiving the draft memorandum of cooperation, she would hold the necessary consultations and inform the Help representatives. The action plan determined an adaptation of the respective act to allow for hiring mediators, but budget planning and provision of funds for financing these positions remain a challenge. Milović believes that the mediators hired by Help for a period of 12 months will mean a lot for the work of the ministry and the Health Centers. She expressed the readiness of everyone to commit and do everything to achieve the goal in an adequate way.

The representative of the Roma Council, Ana Popović, thanked Help for recognizing the Council as a body within which at least two mediators could be engaged. She pointed out the problem of educating RE children, and the provision of support for 47 RE children who did not go to school, and for whom extra classes where provided in cooperation with the elementary school “Marko Miljanov”. However, as the school has only one education mediator, the Roma Council should provide support in the area of ​​easier communication and coordination of children during classes. In this way, and in cooperation with the elementary school “Marko Miljanov”, the Roma Council will ensure the smooth implementation of the program for acquiring primary education for RE children who have not previously attended primary school. This represents an important bridge for the children to continue regular schooling. The program lasts for 4 months and after that children can continue their education in the appropriate classes, depending on their age. The provision of an additional mediator would siginificantly suport the program (monitor attendance regularity and to help with language/communication).

Representatives of Help, as well as the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, believe that this support to the Roma Council would be extremely important and belong to the domain of social protection. Ms. Tatjana Andjelić suggested that the contracting authority, the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro – The Directorate for Finance and Contracting of the EU Assistance Funds, be consulted about the engagement of RE mediators within the Roma Council.

Representatives of the Capital City of Podgorica and the Municipality of Ulcinj, who are partners in this program financed by the Ministry of Finance of Montenegro – The Directorate for Finance and Contracting of the EU Assistance Funds, also attended the meeting of the Steering Commitee for the project „Social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians through mediation“ which is financed by the Ministry of Finance – The Directorate for Finance and Contracting of the EU Assistance Funds (CFCU).

The next step and focus is on hiring the trained mediators.

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