Keys of twelve new housing units were handed over to Roma families in Javor settlement in Gračanica on Friday 29 September 2017. “We are finally able to live a decent life and be no different than any other citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, with tears in his eyes said father of five who had been sleeping with his wife and children for two months in a car at the garbage damp.
The handover of housing units in Gracanica marks a turning point of a better life for Roma families that lived most of their life on garbage damps in bad and unhealthy conditions.
The housing units were constructed within the Roma Action II project, funded by the European Union in the amount of EUR 2.5 million and co-funded by local authorities.
Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the EU to BiH Melvin Asin, accentuated that providing of durable housing units is a priority, but that that alone is not enough. “Access of Roma to education, health services and economic activities is extremely important and necessary. We will continue to support the integration of minority groups into BiH social life”, Asin said.
Mayor of Gračanica Municipality Nusret Helić emphasized importance of this project. “We have implemented the Roma Action project in joint forces and I would like to thank everyone who participated in it. I am particularly pleased with the choice of the final beneficiaries, because these people were in need of help. We are aware of the conditions in which the Roma families lived, as well as what the Roma population is faced with in BiH. They are one of the most endangered populations not only in terms of housing, but also in other life issues. That is why, this project is very important“, said Helić.
One of the beneficiaries, Aziz Osmanović, said that life at the garbage damp was devastating. “A new apartment for my family represents a new beginning and a new life”, Osmanovic said.
The Roma Action project will significantly improve living conditions and socio-economic inclusion of 140 vulnerable Roma families in 9 municipalities/cities across BiH (Tuzla, Gračanica, Banovići, Kakanj, Zavidovići, Zenica, Bijeljina, Modriča, Brčko District B&H).
By now 28 housing units are constructed and in total 72 housing units are reconstructed. The project is implemented by Hilfswerk Austria International (HWA) in cooperation with Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB) and the BiH Association Kali Sara – Roma Information Centre.
Gračanica municipality is one of nine municipalities in the project that strongly support Roma social inclusion. The municipality is actively participating in the project implementation and is providing co-founding in the amount of 20.000 BAM in addition to the land plot, all necessary permits and infrastructure connections. Federation B&H Ministry of DPs and Refugees has allocated 100.000 BAM for seven project municipalities in the Federation of B&H.