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A new hope for 50 Roma families

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Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Predrag Boskovic (left) and Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Mitja Drobnič lay down the foundation stone for apartment buildings for 50 Roma internally displaced families in Konik settlement, Podgorica.   Photo: Dobrilo Malidžan

Podgorica, 11 November, 2014 - The Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Mitja Drobnič, and the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Predrag Boskovic, ceremonially laid the foundation stone for apartment buildings for 50 Roma internally displaced families in Konik settlement, Podgorica.
 
The construction of apartments is part of the IPA funded project, “Identifying durable solutions for (I)DPs and residents of Konik camp”. The closing of the Konik camp has been marked a priority in the Commission Opinion on Montenegro’s application for membership of the European Union. The construction of five buildings with some 10 apartments each, valued at 1.7 million euros, aims to bring the country a step closer to fulfilling the application goal.
 
This project will be followed by construction of additional 120 apartments in Konik camp, through the Regional Housing Programme, which aims to provide durable housing solutions for refugees from countries of former Yugoslavia.
 
“Regional Housing Programme will, beginning with 2015, provide for the construction of additional 120 apartments in this settlement. Almost 28 million euros will be used to provide housing for displaced and internally displaced persons in Montenegro, of which the international donors, most notably the EU, pledged 24 million”, Drobnič reminded.
 
Minister Boskovic announced that the question of displaced and internally displaced persons in Montenegro should be closed by the end of 2016. Housing, according to the minister, represents the most important human need, which will be alleviated throughout the country, in Niksic, Herceg Novi and Berane, within the Regional Housing Programme.
 
“The area of housing is where we have not achieved substantial results. This is the first step in correcting that, so that those who do not wish to voluntarily return to their country of origin, have a roof over their head in Montenegro, as it should be in 21st century”, said Mr. Boskovic.
 
All of the buildings constructed within both projects will have a solar water heating system, with at least one apartment in each building adapted to suit the needs of persons with disabilities. For internally displaced persons to be eligible to apply for housing, they will need to have their legal status in the country regulated.
 
“The Capital City will be the owner of these apartments, in accordance with the Law on Social Housing. Prior to completing the works in summer of 2015, applications and procedures for electing users of housing will be undertaken in accordance with the UNHCR guidelines,” said Mr. Drobnic.
 
Besides building housing units for the Konik residents, EU is financing a project of social inclusion that aims to improve access to healthcare, education and employment for the residents of the settlement and thus complement the housing program in achieving sustainable integration for these people.
 
The initiative aims to bring to a closure the suffering of families that have been separated from their homes over the past 15 years and lived under difficult conditions in the camp. According to the UNHCR’s assessments, some 1,500 IDPs from Kosovo are yet to submit requests for regulating their legal status, prior to the expiration of the deadline, 31st December 2014. UNHCR assists these people in applying and thus securing their future in Montenegro.