Lobby Campaign as Part of the Project Integrating Roma Interests to the Sarajevo Housing Process


During September and October of 2014 co-presidents of the Igman Initiative met with the representatives of the institutions responsible for implementation of the Regional Housing Programme in the countries signatories of the Dayton Agreement to address the issues that Roma refugees and IDPs in all four countries face with regards to their housing needs. Target group of the lobby campaign were also the representatives of the OSCE and the UNHCR in all four countries, as they have been tasked with helping to identify eligible beneficiaries, monitoring their selection and ensuring that they receive adequate protection.

The report of the Igman Initiative expert team, drafted earlier, has indicated that due to twofold disadvantage that derive from displacement/exile and belonging to minority community Roma refugees and IDPs have been recognized as a special disadvantaged category which encounters numerous obstacles in exercising its guaranteed rights and is in need of additional assistance regarding housing care.

For the purpose of improving their position in all four countries and ensuring their participation in the RHP the Igman Initiative expert team outlined the following key recommendations:

Public calls announced within the RHP should be adjusted to meet genuine housing needs of the final beneficiaries, especially Roma refugees and IDPs.

Due to the fact that Roma refugees and IDPs are poorly informed about the RHP, as well as open calls announced within its framework, competent institutions should design comprehensive media campaigns adjusted to the specific living conditions of Roma population, giving advantage to direct communication in the localities of their placement as opposed to providing information via national and local media outlets and message boards at competent institutions.

During the process of applying for housing within the framework of the RHP Roma refugees and IDPs should be provided with free legal aid and assistance in obtaining requested documents.

The Government should take active measures aimed at preventing segregation and ghettoization of Roma refugees and IDPs within the RHP.

The representatives of competent government bodies and international coomunity assessed the Igman Initiative expert report as highly valuable for the reason that it contains data on territorial density of Roma refugees and IDPs as opposed to official lists lacking data of final beneficiaries of the RHP based on their ethnicity. Moreover, the expert report provides a set of recommendations that could improve the implementation of the RHP in all four countries and prevent discrimination of Roma refugees and IDPs as the most vulnerable category within refugee population.

In up and coming months the expert team of the Igman Initiative, as well as organizations gathered around it, will conduct campaign aimed at providing free legal aid and assistance in obtaining documents to Roma refugees and IDPs in all four countries.

Project Integrating Roma Interests to the Sarajevo Housing Process is being implemented with support from the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) from Budapest.