Podgorica, 20 November 2019 – The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro organised an event – a “joint action” – in the Konik Camp today, to together contribute to improving the quality of life of the residents through landscaping and the planting of trees in the surroundings. Landscaping and maintenance of the area where Roma and Egyptian communities live – and raising awareness of environmental protection – are considered very important elements for integration.
The Konik Camp, located near the city of Podgorica, is Europe’s longest-operating refugee camp, settled by Roma and Balkan Egyptians who fled violence in Kosovo in 1999. In order to close this largest collective center in the Balkans, Montenegro has in recent years implemented an Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA)-funded project consisting of the construction of 48 apartments (in 2015) and a multipurpose centre for the Camp residents. The Regional Housing Programme funded the construction of 171 supplementary housing units, enabling the closure of two large collective centers – Camp Konik I and Camp Konik II – in late 2018. The City of Podgorica in turn contributed by providing a land plot of 130 000 m², with the necessary utility connections.
In addition to the provision of housing for the Camp residents, significant results have been achieved over the past few years in improving their social inclusion, e.g. in the field of regulating legal status or improving the families’ access to education and health care, with support from the EU, UNHCR, Red Cross and NGOs such as HELP.
As 20 November is also International Children’s Day, the joint action focussed on children. Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Kemal Purisic, said: “A tree is a symbol of environmental protection and growing up in a safe environment, where the rights of a child are respected. At the moment, 738 children from Konik are in formal education and have access to an appointed medical doctor. We will do everything possible to provide favourable conditions to children from Konik and other parts of Montenegro, to ensure peaceful childhoods and full development of their potential.”
H.E. Aivo Orav, EU Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to Montenegro, stated: “We hope that the main beneficiaries of today’s planting will be the youngest residents of Konik, who deserve to live in a healthy environment and enjoy all the rights guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Konik camp is the location of our greatest achievements under the Regional Housing Programme in Montenegro. We are pleased to see that Montenegro is making good progress in the implementation of the programme – 431 vulnerable families will have obtained a new home by the end of 2019 and the remaining 250 families are expected to receive new homes in 2020 and 2021.”
Minister for Human and Minority Rights Mehmed Zenka highlighted the significant progress made in improving the living conditions, in cooperation with international community. “We will continue our efforts in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable groups”, he noted.
Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Nikola Antovic, added that the Ministry is devoted to looking after the health of Roma children in the same way as all other children. “This is one of the ways the Government of Montenegro demonstrates that it is important for all to be equal“, said Antovic.
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- 20 Nov, 2019
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