Ukovic: Montenegro Mismanages Roma’s Problems

The vice-chairman of one of Montenegro’s councils for minorities accuses authorities of failing to improve status of Roma people in the country.Muhamed Ukovic, the vice-chairman of the National Council for Roma and Egyptians, accuses the government and municipalities of mismanaging the projects aimed at improving the status of this population in Montenegro.In his public statement, which was sent to BIRN on Friday, he said that some municipalities, such as Berane, which had received money to improve the housing conditions of Roma and Egyptian people, had not even started their projects yet.

Ukovic added that the government has only allocated 30 percent of the funds, as envisaged by the 2008 – 2012 Strategy for Improving the Status of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, so far.

He says that many Roma and Egyptians still live in unsanitary conditions, often with no running water and electricity, in barracks, far from the eyes of the public.

Their dedicated NGOs, despite making frequent applications for projects in the field of human rights, are frequently rejected at the expense of organizations, “which have never dealt with the problems of the Roma and Egyptians“.

Montenegro hosts almost 3,000 Roma refugees, who fled Kosovo in 1999.

Almost half of the refugees live in Podgorica’s Konik camp, which was describe by the Council of Europe as de facto segregation and its living conditions as “inhuman and hazardous”.

In March, the EU and Montenegro signed an agreement that allocates three million euros to the Ministry of Labour and Social Care, so that a long-term solution for the residents of Konik camp in Podgorica could be implemented.

The Montenegrin government also adopted a new 2012-2016 Strategy for improving the status of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians.

Ukovic urged the authorities to provide an opportunity for NGOs, composed of representatives of Roma and Egyptian population, to actively participate in the implementation of the new strategy at both national and local levels.

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