Social & Economic rights

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Press Conference Held on the Beginning of the Implementation of Roma CARDS Project




On the 6th May 2008, a Press Conference was held in Media Centre Belgrade, regarding the beginning of the implementation of projects  “Social Inclusion and Access to Human Rights for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Communities in the Western Balkans” and “Combating Social Exclusion: Universal Birth  Registration in Serbia”, that will be funded by the EU through UNICEF and UNHCR. Praxis will be UNICEF’s and UNHCR’s main legal implementation partner in this project. At the Conference, the Projects were presented by: Lennart Kotsalainen, UNHCR Representative in Serbia, Maria Luisa Fornara, UNICEF Deputy Representative for Serbia, Ivanka Kostic, Executive Director of Praxis, Bojan Andjelkovic, Assistant Minister for Labour and Social Policy of the Republic of Serbia and Ljuan Koka, Head of the Secretariat for Roma National Strategy of the Republic of Serbia.

The projects aim at contributing to the increased social inclusion of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities and other marginalized groups and facilitating their full enjoyment of citizen’s rights. Special attention will be given to the most vulnerable among the Roma, especially women, children and elderly.

Official data states that there are 108,000 Roma living in Serbia, although some estimates suggest that the number is as high as 500,000 Roma. At the same time, 22,965 RAE are officially registered as IDPs from Kosovo, although this number is claimed to be higher since at least as much RAE from Kosovo were not able to register due to lack of personal documents.

As part of the activities within the project, UNHCR, UNICEF and Praxis will start an outreach and information campaign with the aim to raise awareness, educate and inform RAE population, as well as to sensitize the local and central authorities and domestic population on the need and importance of civil registration and possession of personal documents. This campaign will include field visits of the teams consisting of representatives of UNICEF, UNHCR, Praxis, Roma Secretariat and Ministry for Labour and Social Policy, to 20 municipalities in Serbia who will meet the Roma community based organizations, Roma coordinators, representatives of municipal authorities and local institutions.

In addition, Praxis will provide legal assistance, information and counselling to the RAE in the field, in relation to obtaining documents and initiating procedures of subsequent registration and re-registration into registry books, which has been identified as a problem particularly affecting the RAE population.

By organizing outreach and information campaigns and lobbying, as well as providing free legal assistance, information and counselling in individual cases, these projects aim to enable the RAE population to become recognized before the law and access documents,  and thus reduce the number of legally invisible persons in Serbia, and recommend solutions for removal of administrative and systemic obstacles which impede the RAE population to enjoy their basic human rights.

See also the news from Media Center web site here.
See also the news UNHCR launches free legal aid project for Roma in Serbia
See also the news published in the newspaper Vecernje novosti "Invisible to the state and law" and "Children invisible too" (Serbian only).




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