News 08 Oct 13

Montenegro Refugees ‘Suffering Without ID Papers’

The Council of Europe has expressed concern that some refugees in Montenegro have not yet been given identity documents to enable them to get work, healthcare and education.

Milena Milosevic
The Konik refugee camp in Podgorica

“Our major concern is that part of Montenegro’s RAE [Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian] population still do not have proper papers,” Eva Smith, president of the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, a Council of Europe human rights body, told BIRN.

Although the Montenegrin authorities have tried to resolve refugees’ legal status by allowing them to become ‘foreigners with permanent residence’, those who have no documents cannot apply for this.

“Foreigner status thus does not help, if they cannot get papers,” Smith said.

She said that the authorities should consider issuing new papers to Roma who fled from Kosovo without identity documents during the late 1990s conflict there.

The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, which held a round-table discussion in Podgorica on Monday, said that although Montenegro has good anti-discrimination legislation, some of the issues it raised in its 2011 report on the country had still not been solved.

Concerns remain about the large Konik refugee camp on the outskirts of Podgorica, where 1,500 Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian refugees live in effective segregation from the rest of society.

“Living conditions there are inhuman and hazardous,” the 2011 report said.

The Montenegrin government and the EU agreed in 2012 to spend three million euro in order to find a long-term solution building 90 apartments and a community centre for families living in the camp.

The construction, initially planned for this year, is due to start in 2014, but Smith says that housing all the refugees together would mean that they remain segregated rather than integrated into Montenegrin society.

She said that a better solution, as proposed in the 2011 report, would be standard accommodation for refugee families across the city or the country.

The other option would be for half of the planned apartments to be filled by non-Roma families who had been properly prepared for life with Roma refugee neighbours, she said.

Montenegro currently hosts around 13,000 refugees who have been given the temporary status of ‘internally displaced’ and ‘displaced’ people, over 8,000 of whom came from Kosovo.

In the period between 2009 and 2012, over 5,000 refugees were given permanent residence in the country.

Until December 2012, fewer than 1,000 of them had obtained Montenegrin citizenship.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Feature 14 Dec 17

Homecoming Kosovo Serbs Face an Uncertain Future

News 13 Sep 17

Bosnia Plans New Homes for War-Displaced

News 05 Sep 17

BIRN Film on Wartime Home Swaps Gets TV Premiere

Feature 30 Aug 17

The Croats and Serbs Who Swapped Homes

News 18 Jul 17

Bosnian Serb President in ‘Hate Speech’ Probe

News 03 Apr 17

Kosovo Condemns Attack on Serb Returnees’ House

News 10 Mar 17

Kosovo Official Charged With Anti-Serb Hate Speech

News 01 Nov 16

Kosovo Council Tells Serbs Not to Come Back