Montenegro: Konik Refugees Move into Containers

Refugees from Kosovo residing in Montenegro’s capital, whose barracks were burnt down in July’s fire, have been re-housed in more than 200 containers, until permanent homes for them are built.The installation of containers in the Konik camp, the largest refugee camp in the Balkans, which hosts around 1,500 mainly Roma refugees from Kosovo, was successfully finished on Monday, the Montenegrin government announced.

This is a midterm solution for 800 people, who lost their belongings in the fire which broke out in this camp on July 24. Until now, they have been living in tents.

The containers will soon be equipped with electricity supply, the government said.

Parallel to the provision of a midterm accommodation for the Konik camp refugees, the Montenegrin Ministry of Labour and Social Care has signed on Monday a contract with the EU delegation in Podgorica for a project aimed at helping refugees.

The first component of the project is devoted to the social integration of the refugees, through the better access to education, work and health care, while the second one includes the long-term solution for their accommodation.

As a part of the project, the construction of 90 new apartments is expected to start in 2013. The project also envisages support for those who would like to return to Kosovo.

Improving the status of refugees in the country, who have administrative status of internally displaced and displaced persons, is one of the main conditions for Montenegro’s EU accession.

The most vulnerable refugees are predominantly Roma people, who fled Kosovo in 1999 during the war there and settled in the Konik camp.

In February, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, advisory human rights body of Council of Europe, described living conditions in this camp, located at the outskirts of Podgorica, as “inhuman and hazardous”.

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