“Despite the efforts of the state, the social situation of the Roma and Egyptian populations in Montenegro is still unsatisfactory, while in the opinion of members of this community, the assistance provided by the state is insufficient in relation to the problems they face,” the roundtable said. organized CEDEM on the occasion of the presentation of studies on social protection and employment of the RE population.
The studies were prepared within the project Support to Social Protection of Roma and Egyptian Population in Montenegro, which is funded by the Commission for the Allocation of Part of the Revenue from Games of Chance of the Government of Montenegro.
According to the key findings of the study, there are a number of indicators that indicate a pronounced risk of poverty and social exclusion of this community. Lack of personal documents, frequent migration and low level of information on social protection rights make it difficult to access rights, especially among the RE IDP population without regulated legal status. Despite developments in education, low activity rates and critically high unemployment rates clearly indicate the unsatisfactory access of Roma and Egyptians to the labor market, especially for women, youth and displaced persons and internally displaced persons. Most members of this community do not have qualifications that meet the needs of the labor market, which is one of the key barriers to accessing employment. Informal employment dominates, in the chain of which Roma and Egyptians occupy the last place, while the number of those employed for an indefinite period is very low and ranges at the level of 5% of the working RE population. Living in chronic poverty exposes this community to a number of health and safety risks and often results in the emergence of child labor that is not sanctioned in an effective and sustainable way. The employment results of Roma and Egyptians in the public sector are very limited, especially when it comes to local government. It is also a fact that employers are reluctant to hire Roma and Egyptians and rarely entrust them with professional jobs, even when they meet the conditions of a given job.
On the other hand, social policy measures are of such a nature that they primarily seek to address the consequences of poverty, but not to encourage the sustainable integration of the RE population. Additional efforts are needed in terms of more efficient planning, directing and monitoring the effects of social policy measures, which cannot be implemented without data on the real social position of the RE community. However, the fact that data in the social protection system are not based on ethnicity significantly complicates the design and implementation of measures aimed at improving the position of the RE community, because the actual data are often hidden behind national averages.
According to CEDEM, the necessary progress that the EU expects from Montenegro when it comes to social inclusion of marginalized communities cannot be achieved without a clearly defined affirmative action in employment and access to social and child protection, but also significantly greater involvement of Roma NGOs and representatives. communities in defining priorities and preparing and implementing policies aimed at achieving substantial equality of the RE community in society.