The project “CARE – Contribution to the access of refugees and internally displaced persons to employment rights and opportunities” in Montenegro achieved the planned goal and expected results, thus contributing to the sustainability of the Regional Housing Program (RHP) in Montenegro.
This is the conclusion of the participants of the Zoom conference “Sustainability of the Regional Housing Program for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons – CARE Project Contribution: Achievements and Challenges – Experience of Montenegro”, held and organized by the Igman Initiative on October 28, 2020.
In addition to the representatives of the Igman Initiative, the conference was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare of Montenegro, the EU Delegation to Montenegro, UNHCR, the non-governmental sector and the end users of the project.
At the conference it was stated that the project realized the planned activities, although in a slightly reduced scope compared to the original project.
According to the statement of the representative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the end users will soon get prefabricated houses for use, considering that the legal issues that hindered the realization of the construction of houses have been resolved.
It was pointed out at the conference that the project economically empowered 10 end-users, and that it is necessary to continue with their monitoring after the end of the project in order to establish the impact made on the quality of life of users, but still support vulnerable users.
The need to periodically collect data on the socio-economic status of refugees as well as the problems they face was also emphasized.
According to the conference participants, it is necessary to increase strategic support to the issues and problems of RHP beneficiaries at the level of government, legislature and municipal authorities in order to improve their position.
In this regard, the need for stronger and more efficient horizontal coordination within the state system of government and management (at the level of ministries and supporting structures) was emphasized in order to more efficiently and synchronously address the problems of the most vulnerable groups of refugees, displaced persons and returnees.
The participants of the conference emphasized that the difficult situation of a certain number of refugees, returnees and displaced persons, especially those located in the north of the country, is still evident in Montenegro, mainly in rural areas.
Special attention was paid to Berane and a large number of families without legal status.
Major problems are also identified within the Roma population, whose problems are multi-layered (unregulated legal status, housing, economic, social, health, educational status…) and require much more intensive community engagement.
Speaking about the aspects of the sustainability of the RHP program in Montenegro and the contribution of the “CARE” project, it was pointed out that there are still many challenges that the RHP faces.
Conference participants agreed that there is a need for strong and full coordination of RHP stakeholders with other accompanying programs and projects that seek to support the full integration of refugees, returnees and displaced persons into the local environment.
It was pointed out that it is a big problem to provide a housing solution – to build houses and flats and move families into them, but an even bigger challenge is the full integration of people – their more favorable economic and social status.
In the context of the sustainability of RHP, there is an emphasis on the need to resolve the issue of maintenance of social housing facilities in Montenegro – legislative framework, given that the existing regulations oblige tenants / users to adequately maintain housing units although most families are unable to do so primarily because of the very unfavorable socio-economic status.
The practice of the “CARE” project in Montenegro, which used the experiences of all relevant actors, including other civil society organizations that have been working on issues of importance to refugees and displaced persons for many years, was praised.
According to the conference participants from state institutions, the “CARE” project opened many new issues and aspects of importance for a long-term and sustainable solution to the situation of refugees and displaced persons of which the responsible actors were not fully aware.
At the same time, very good cooperation was achieved between the representatives of the “CARE” project team and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare – the leading state body in charge of the RHP program in Montenegro, as well as with relevant international organizations and local authorities. Such cooperation between the civil and public sectors is recognized as a good practice that should be continued and intensified.
Conference participants agreed that the need for interventions such as the “CARE” project still exists, that existing lessons learned are numerous and useful and should be translated into new similar projects and supported by the EU.