Local Dialogue Meeting in Bijeljina, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Local Dialogue Meeting organised by ERGO Member OTAHARIN

Through ERGO Network’s project Strengthening Roma NGOs as transparent and independent watchdog organisations in the framework of the  Joint initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey our member OTAHARIN organised a Local Dialogue Meeting with the city administration in Bijeljina on 31 May 2018.  The city was represented by Milan Lazić (Social affairs) and Ljubiša Stanišić (Office for National minorities). From the civil society side, the organisations Otaharin, WA Romkinja and the youth organisation “Senat mladih OMOTE” were present with their representatives Draga Joković, Sabira Hašimović, Fatima Džanić and Mladen Đurić.

Different topics to discuss

A wide range of topics was covered during the intensive meeting between the civil society and local authorities’ representatives:

  • Organization of working group meeting for drafting a Local Action Plan
  • Proposal for renovation of streets in Roma settlements (asphalting and lighting installation)
  • Initiatives of young Roma through support of CARE International (renovation of objects of social vulnerable families)
  • Environmental problems near residential buildings for Roma near the canal Dašnica
  • Problems with documentation of Roma families to solve housing issues
  • Problems with families abusing the facilities they received in terms of renting an apartment for other family
  • Problems with families who received objects for living, but still force children to beg
  • Suggestions for the organisation of a youth camp within the project implemented by Otaharin
The meeting resulted in the following recommendations:
  • Organise a meeting of the working group for reviewing the Local Action Plan with the presence of the Mayor
  • Collect necessary information about the target group and their community in order to establish a plan for solving problems of asphalting and lighting (Streets: Bogdana Zimonjića, Baje Pivljanina, Ilije Garašanina, Vojvode Petra Pojovića i Ratka Perića)
  • In order to solve environmental problems near residential buildings for Roma, it is necessary to find out what the company received on the tender for maintenance
  • Make a call for citizens to donate used furniture, clothes and similar things in order to support social vulnerable families  (joint initiative of Otaharin and city administration)
  • Define relationships in terms of how much and what can be done in case of unregulated housing documents of Roma
  • Define mechanisms for controlling life in buildings built for Roma due to housing problems (non-living and rent to other families) and non-payment of maintenance money – work on changing contracts and rules for obtaining an apartment – include a centre for social work
  • Organise a meeting of the working group for the protection of children to resolve problem of begging.
  • Proposal of cooperation with the armed forces for maintenance of a youth camp in Bijeljina

The meeting was organised with financial support of the International Visegrad Fund and the IPA Civil Society Programme of the European Commisison.

Roma Cafe

Roma Café discussion kicks off on Romani Resistance Day

May 16 is a symbolic date for now in the contemporary Roma movement throughout Europe – a day that intends to shift into a positive narrative by highlighting Roma heroes during the holocaust. ERGO Network together with the Diverse Youth Network organized a renewed concept of Roma Café on May 17 to engage in discussions with Roma and non-Roma on what it means to us to have a Roma Resistance Day.

During the Roma Café guests came together from all over Brussels and Europe. Ms Evelin Verhas joined us from the Budapest based Tom Lantos Institute to present the approach of a human rights organization as well as to provide insights into the Roma Resistance research that has been conducted in 5 European countries. It was important to set the scene with a video interview, where a French Roma World War II survivor, Raymond Gureme explains his every days during the 40s in a very informative testimony. Mr. Atanas Stoyanov kicked off the discussion sharing his own motivation and experience being part of the Dik I Na Bistar movement as a young Roma who has been involved since the very beginning as a participant, later as a trainer and group leader. The DIK I NA BISTAR movement is organized by the Ternype Roma International Youth Network bringing together young people from all over Europe to Krakow and Auschwitz to commemorate the Roma genocide on August 2. Besides the remembrance initiative, a training component is also empowering young Roma and non-Roma.

The research – Joanna Talewicz-Kwiatkowska: `Resistance and Survival of the Roma and Sinti in Auschwitz-Birkenau` – presented by Evelin Verhas pointed out a number of focal points to consider in the current discourse. The minority rights perspective requires the equal recognition of the genocides that have been committed against minorities, and inter and multicultural education must serve as a basis for that. May 16 is researched using the resources that are at disposal such as Roma and Sinti survivor testimonies, memoirs, official records etc., most of them found in the archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. It should be noted that Joachimowski submitted his testimony three times, each time giving a different date for the events at the Zigeunerlager. Whilst recalling a date from the past may be a challenge for a person submitting a testimony, one needs to be cautious assuming that testimonies necessarily describe historical facts. It should be noted that, until now, no existing research could verify or or disprove Joachimowski’s story. Therefore, this research was meant as a first step towards reconstructing events connected to Roma and Sinti resistance in the Zigeunerlager.

The intention was to stimulate new thoughts and to engage in discussions. The meaning of resistance and how it is present in our everyday lives was very important, but the questions of identity also raised a number of valid points.

 

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 09/04/2018

 

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors at the 3nd EU Roma Week on April 9, 2018

 

Roma Active Albania and European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network organized an award ceremony in the European Parliament to acknowledge positive examples of local authorities – eight Mayors from the Western Balkans and Turkey. The campaign “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is part of the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey aiming to mobilize Roma communities and strengthen their existing capacities to engage in a dialogue with public authorities.

The eight winning mayors, selected from 49 competing municipalities, were welcomed by the Member of the European Parliament Ms Soraya Post, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ms Mila Carovska, the Director-General of the European Commission DG Near Mr Christian Danielsson and the Director of Roma Active Albania and General Manager of the project Mr Adriatik Hasantari.

Ms Post explained the importance of cooperation between all the stakeholders by pointing out the relevance of participation of mayors in fighting antigypsyism. “We are looking forward to have more mayors who will take full responsibility”, she stated. Mr Danielsson highlighted the ways of support by the DG Near and the investments of the European Union under IPA II in the Western Balkan and Turkey. “The commitment shown by the mayors and local organizations should inspire future efforts to continue the good work”, he asserted, and assured future commitment of the DG NEAR as well. Ms Carovska highlighted the importance of partnership of governments with Roma civil society organizations in implementing the strategic plans for Roma integration. “We have to work for the development of the whole region”, she argued by pointing out the importance of joint efforts. Mr Hasantari introduced the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey focusing on “the Most Roma Friendly Mayor” component. He concluded with the strong message: “When Roma civil society is strong, authorities perform better!”

The awards were given to the following eight mayors: Mr Erion Veliaj, Municipality of Tirana, Albania; Mr Mićo Mićić, Municipality of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Blagoj Bochvarski, Municipality of Štip, FYROM; Mr Burim Berisha, Municipality of Fushë Kosova, Kosovo; Ms Snežana Matijević, Municipality of Tivat, Montenegro; Ms Latinka Vasiljković, Municipality of Odžaci, Serbia; Mr Osman Genç, Municipality of Canik, Turkey and Mr Hayri İnönü, Municipality of Şişli, Turkey by Ms Post, Mr Danielsson and Mr Hasantari.

Seven independent juries were established in the respective countries, assessing the applications and comparing the facts with the realities. The juries pointed out the progress in having a concrete and budgeted Local Action Plans, efforts in creating education-related opportunities, support for social entrepreneurship, improvement of infrastructure in terms of roads, lighting, sewage and water supply, newly built apartments, Roma participation in local authority structures, and some results are visible in the fields of employment and health as well as in applying holistic approach.

After the award ceremony, all participants were invited to a luncheon discussion. Ms Gabriela Hrabanova, the director of ERGO Network, invited the participants to engage and open about challenges they face and think about how they can work together to find solutions. The award was followed by discussions about the situation of Roma in the Western Balkan and Turkey by speakers ranging from civil society representatives, mayors and the National Roma Contact Points to members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and international organizations. Main questions that lead the discussions were the following: how can the participants overcome specific challenges they are facing from their own positions and how do they see the development of the positioning of the enlargement countries’ Roma agenda in the post-2020 EU programing period.

The Award Ceremony is organized in the framework of the EU Roma Week 2018 held from April 9 to April 12, 2018 to mark the occasion of the International Roma Day on April 8. The International Roma Day in 2018 commemorate the 47th anniversary of the first Romani Congress that was organized in London in 1971. The third EU Roma Week is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Parliament, together with civil society and international organizations.

Hosting MEP of the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award Ceremony: Soraya Post

 

All the events of the Roma Week can be found at https://www.ardi-ep.eu/roma-week-2018/. Contact: Jelena Jovanovic (j.jovanovic@ergonetwork.org, +32 486 451 393).

 

Disclaimer: This press release has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The content of the release is the sole responsibility of Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

 

 

Roma Traineeship at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

Roma Traineeship at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

The call for applications for the FRA Roma Traineeship programme 2018-2019 is now open. 

To apply please see the vacancy notice

What is it all about?

This traineeship scheme is addressed mainly to recent university graduates of Romani background, without excluding those who – in the framework of lifelong learning – are at the beginning of a new professional career.

The aims of the traineeship at the FRA are:

To provide Roma trainees an understanding of the objectives and activities of the Agency’s role in ensuring full respect for fundamental rights across the EU.

To enable Roma trainees to acquire practical experience and knowledge of the day-to-day work of FRA Departments and sectors. To provide the opportunity to work in a multi-cultural, multi linguistic and multi-ethnic environment, contributing to the development of mutual understanding, trust and tolerance. To promote European integration within the spirit of new governance and through active participation to create awareness of true European citizenship.

To enable Roma trainees to put into practice knowledge acquired during their studies, and in particular in their specific areas of competence. To introduce these graduates to the professional world and the constraints, duties and opportunities therein.

To allow Roma trainees to contribute to the Agency’s mission in helping to make fundamental rights a reality for everyone in the EU.

Alliance Against Antigypsyism Drafts Recommendations for Post 2020 European Programming Period

Alliance against Antigypsyism and its partners work intensively to create recommendations for the Post 2020 European programming period

On the 14th of March 2018, ERGO Network together with European Network against Racism (ENAR) and Central Council of German Sinti and Roma organized a meeting of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

The aim of the meeting was twofold. The participants explored two topics. One of them is Roma inclusion in EU social and employment policies and another one specifically about the antigypsyism framework at the EU level and beyond. The ultimate aim was to discuss the draft papers authored by some members of the Alliance themselves and contribute into the content by discussing specific relevant policy processes and by formulating recommendations. New steps were jointly set in creating the two documents with recommendations with purpose to help the institutions with clear guidelines that will be used as an advocacy tool by stakeholders in their work on Roma and the post 2020 programming period.

Other participation organizations such as Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Roma Active Albania, OTAHARIN, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Romano  Centro, Slovo 21, Romea, European Roma Right Center, Sozialfabrik, Society for the Research on Antigypsyism, were consulted in order to help make the recommendations feasible and relevant ranging from the international to the national and local level perspectives.

Secondly, a joint advocacy work occurred in light of preparation for the upcoming European Commission consultation meeting organized by DG JUST a day after, on 15th of March. The key objective of the consultation was to collect views on the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies launched in 2011 and running until 2020. Our discussion was yet another coordinated action among various civil society stakeholders aiming at reaching a common agreement on priorities and possible action plan that will lead our work in 2018 and further so we achieve strong Roma inclusive policies after 2020.

 

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