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Analytical Paper on Roma Returnees

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The recent migration crisis has posed severe challenges for Europe, having an enormous impact on all asylum seekers and related policies. Although only one percent of requests submitted so far in the EU countries have been considered admissible, citizens of the Republic of Serbia continue to apply for asylum in big numbers1. What is more, many of the asylum applications are unfounded and their increase threatens to jeopardize the EU visa-free regime for Serbian citizens, which was granted to Serbia in 2009.

The other side of the same coin is the expected rise in a number of returnees. According to estimates of the German government, up to 200,000 Serbian citizens are expected to be returned from the EU in the near future. Most of them are Roma2. This is recognized by the Strategy for Reintegration of Returnees, which singles out Roma as a group at particular risk in the return process that should receive special attention.

The main purpose of this assignment is thus to conduct analysis and prepare a report about the current situation of Roma returnees under the readmission agreement in Serbia. In particular, this paper is an attempt to reveal impact of the inclusive Roma housing, employment and education interventions under the UNDP project ‘Reintegration of Roma Returnees in Serbia’ and make assessment on strengths and weaknesses of the applied ‘cooperation model’. The final objective is to support economic empowerment and social inclusion of Roma returnees in Serbia.

Having in mind the specific tasks of this assignment, the work was carried out through desk research and review of the most relevant national documents, as well as through the field interviews with Roma returnees in order to observe the changes at the sites where the intervention is taking place (cities of Niš, Subotica and Vranje). The observations and feedback from the UNDP project beneficiaries, as well as from a number of other Roma returnees that have not been included in the project, was collected with the help of Roma coordinators. For these purposes, detailed questionnaire has been developed. The analysis focused on inclusive housing, employment and education outcomes.

This report sets out structure with five chapters. Following the introduction, chapter 2 gives overview of the current situation regarding Roma returnees. Chapter 3 provides beneficiary analysis in the cities where the intervention is taking place, describing their satisfaction, attitudes and benefits based on the field interviews, while chapter 4 portrays ingredients of the successful ‘cooperation model’ for the inclusion of Roma returnees. Finally, chapter 5 discusses main challenges and provides recommendations on how to proceed forward.