RHP: 120 families from the Konik camp in Montenegro move into new homes
15 November 2017
Podgorica – A ceremony was organised today in Konik, Montenegro, to hand over RHP-financed apartments to 120 most vulnerable families from the Konik Camp. The Konik Camp, located next to the city of Podgorica, is the largest refugee camp in the Balkans, settled by Roma who left Kosovo after the conflict in 1999 and came to Montenegro.
To resolve the housing issues of this very vulnerable population group, the European Union has already provided financing for 48 apartments in 2015, through “Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance” (IPA) funds. The 120 apartments handed over today are financed by the Regional Housing Programme (RHP), which the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) is managing. A further 51 apartments will be handed over in autumn 2018, which should make possible the closure of the camp in late 2018.Deputy Prime Minister Milutin Simović highlighted the importance of today’s event, which gives a new life to people who lost their homes almost 20 years ago and who now consider Montenegro as their new home.
Ambassador Aivo Orav, Head of the European Union Delegation in Montenegro, stated: “The adoption and implementation of a sustainable strategy for the gradual closure of the Konik Camp was identified as one of the key priorities in the European Commission's 2010 ‘Opinion on Montenegro's application for EU membership’. Today, I am proud to say that, together, we have achieved this goal!”
Stephan Sellen, Deputy Director General of Loans & Social Development of the CEB, highlighted the important role not just of the Montenegrin Government but also of the donor community and the international organisations involved, in finally being able to turn the page and, eventually, close the camp. He mentioned that, by end-2017, close to 3 000 housing units were expected to be completed under the RHP in the four countries involved.
The event was hosted by Minister Kemal Purisić from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Montenegro, and was also attended by Judy Kuo, Deputy Chief of Mission from the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro, Slavoljub Stijepović, Mayor of Podgorica, Lia Magnaguagno, Head of the Democratization Programme of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, and Aleksandar Čadjenović, Protection Officer, UNHCR Montenegro.
Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 41 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable, AA+ with Standard & Poor's, outlook positive and AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.