Montenegro, 24 July 2008 – A new social housing scheme comprising 24 family homes was handed over to the Municipality of Berane by representatives of the European Agency for Reconstruction, the European Commission, UNHCR and the German NGO HELP. The event was attended by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, the Bureau for the Care of Refugees, CARITAS of Luxemburg and members of the Roma community in Berane.
At the ceremony, Clive Rumbold from the Delegation of the European Commission to Montenegro underlined the need to integrate displaced persons and ensure them an independent life, socially and economically. “Last year’s EC Progress Report on Montenegro underlined the need to provide refugees and displaced persons full access to employment, health insurance, social welfare and adequate housing. This EU project is helping the authorities provide the housing for displaced persons,” Clive Rumbold said.

Rainer Freund, Head of Centre of the European Agency for Reconstruction in Podgorica, added: “The move into this permanent housing scheme ends 9 years of insecurity for almost 200 persons, who have lived in temporary shelter since their flight from Kosovo. It closes an important gap that remained in addressing housing needs of all refugees and displaced persons living in the Berane municipality.”
Vuko Golubovic, the mayor of Berane municipality, announced that the local authorities will continue their support for refugees and displaced persons by creating employment opportunities for them in the municipality. He added that his intention is to ensure that the investment in the “New Riverside” Social Housing Scheme will become sustainable. According to Mr Golubovic, this will only be possible if the already significant integration of the Roma displaced persons in the local labour market will be further enhanced.

The “New Riverside Social Housing Scheme” is the first of its kind in Montenegro, established with assistance largely provided by the European Union’s CARDS Programme at the request of the Montenegrin Bureau for the Care of Refugees and the municipality of Berane.

It is part of a wider CARDS project, with a starting budget of € 2.5 million, designed to help the Montenegrin Government implement the integration component of its “National Strategy for Resolving the Issues of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons”. It comprises not only housing solutions but other social infrastructure such as a home for the elderly as well as income generating activities for displaced persons, refugees and socially vulnerable Montenegrins.

The programme is implemented by the German NGO HELP and co-funded by HELP and UNHCR. Other EU member state charities such as the Dutch Grabovac have added funds to individual programme components. The Berane component of the programme has, in addition, benefited from financial contributions from CARITAS Luxemburg and the Municipality of Berane. Thanks to the catalytic effect of CARDS and the dynamism of the civil society organization in charge, the total value of the program, and thus its benefits, have grown to near €4 million.
There are approximately 25,000 refugees and displaced persons in Montenegro, or 4% of the total population.

Source: European Agency for Reconstruction