Bosnia’s Romani minority is still considered the most excluded and marginalized community in the country. Housing, education, health care and employment are four areas in which a number of strategies and national plans for the inclusion of Roma have been made in order to make the lives of Roma in Bosnia better. The work on local action plans that started three years ago, within the EU project “Active Participation for Roma inclusion”, is now producing concrete results. The municipalities of Prnjavor, Bijeljina, Donji Vakuf and Travnik were first municipalities in Bosnia that developed their local strategies focused on the Roma. Strategies in the form of local action plans were adopted by the municipal and city councils as strategic development documents focusing on the Roma population.
Ajša Adrović-Bešlagić, Program Manager in the EU Delegation in BiH, pointed out that signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Tuesday represents continuation of the activities initiated not only for raising level of the responsibility within local institutions towards Roma population, but also on building local capacities for equal partnership between activist and non-governmental organizations and local authorities.
“The European Union provides financial, but also political support for processes of the integration and inclusion of Roma population in BiH and strongly supports cooperation at the municipal level. We thank all municipalities, which are, as real positive examples, supporting this project and which are committed to increase the level of integration of Roma in their respective local communities, ” said Adrović-Bešlagić.
Saliha Đuderija, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, emphasized that the Ministry will always support projects that involve Roma in decision-making processes and development of local strategies, in which local communities in Bosnia are taking greater responsibility towards Roma population living in their area.
“It is expected that in the following period, following positive examples of Donji Vakuf, Travnik, Prnjavor and Bijeljina, at least 15 municipalities will go through a similar process of planning and adopting local strategies focused on the Roma population,” said Đjuderija.
The Active Roma Youth for Rights and Inclusions project is financially supported by the European Union in total amount of 350,000 Euros, and is implemented by CARE International in the Balkans in cooperation with the partner organizations Bolja Budućnost and Otaharin. In the forthcoming period, in cooperation with these municipalities, a number of activities will be launched, including local initiatives focused on direct investment in the Roma communities and small grants for improving the quality of life of the Roma population. The project also includes the employment of five young Romanis as liaison officers between the Roma communities and the municipalities. During 30 months of project duration, in selected municipalities, more than 40 young Roma will be identified and educated, and they will implement more than 30 local initiatives aimed for higher integration Roma. Support will also be provided to Roma organizations working in these municipalities, and 4 small grants for 4 projects will be allocated to address specific problems of Roma population in targeted municipalities.