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Application of EU standards in social inclusion in the IPA countries of South Eastern Europe

Networking of organizations that deal with the issues of disability and mental health and collaboration with relevant institutions, with the scope of a better social inclusion were the main conclsions of the Regional Conference on welfare and active social policies, which was held in Belgrade on the 21st and the 22nd of September. The conference was organized by Caritas Serbia, with the support Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, within the project SOCIETIES (Support Of CSOs ln Empowering Technical Skills, lnclusion of people with disabilties and EU standards in South East Europe), funded by the EU.


Caritas Serbia is the leading partner in the project SOCIETIES, which involves 15 other organisations from IPA countries of South Eastern Europe and from Italy and Bulgaria, who are participating to share their experiences. The project is supported by 6 ministries and a great number of institutions of countries in the region. The goal of this project is to form a strong network on the regional level, which will work on the inclusion of people with disabilities and with mental health problems.

In his introductory speech the president of Caritas Serbia, Belgrade Archbishop msgr. Stanislav Hocevar pointed out that the main task of Caritas is to promote the dignity of every human being and also to promote solidarity, which has been imprinted in all the creation. “We wish that here where there were many of conflicts in the past now there is a great solidarity. We have the strenght to work together on a regional level“, said msgr. Hocevar.

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The representative of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, State Secretary Ferenc Vicko spoke about the long collaboration between this Ministry and Caritas, as also about the work of Caritas on the field of mental health, through different projects, campaigns and an important moment of signing of a memorandum of understanding between this Ministry and Caritas.

At the conference were presented the results of a research, which was organized in the first six months of this project. During this period a mapping of the civil society organizations which work on the issues o disability and mental health was done in the countries of the region. Through this activity it was possible to gather information about 171 civil society organisation and about the functioning of the social welfare system of the countries in the region. From the results the biggest problems that persons with disabilites and mental health problems face in the region are: architectual barriers (for people with disabilities), unemployment, lack of professional formation adjusted to their needs and possilities, discrimination and isolation. Although in many countries there are laws dealing with these issues they are not applied enough, which enables the social inclusion.


During the conference the participants also had the chance to hear about the experiences of Bulgaria in the process of transition from a non-EU to an EU member state and the application of EU standards in this country, as also some examples of good practice already existing in the IPA countries.


Regional Conference on welfare and active social policies

In the scope of EU funded project SOCIETIES (Support Of CSOs In Empowering Technical Skills, Inclusion of people with disabilties and EU standards in South East Europe) Caritas Serbia with its partners is organising the Regional Conference on welfare and active social policies. The conference will take place on 21st and 22nd September 2016 in Belgrade in Palace of Serbia (Conference Room 368), Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 2.
It will bring together EU and IPA national representatives from health and welfare system, civil society and public authorities to share good practices as well as difficulties and to deepen the knowledge of the EU standards for the welfare reforms. A special attention will be given to the role of civil society organizations in this field and in the welfare reform.


Children refugees learning and playing in Presevo

In the reality of the refugee camp, where people and circumstances are often changing, Caritas team of psycho-social support is, among all, taking care of the little ones. Although there is still no official school in the camp the members of the team are trying to teach children through play and also to make them socialize with other peers.

“Children should feel happy and have the will to learn together with us and with each other. Our mission is to engage children to get friends and be accepted for who they are. They all are the same, valuable and they should be treated like this, with respect and kindness. We want children to have the courage to tell their emotions and teach them to be respectful and kind with each other”, said Mimoza Fazliu, psychologist in the Caritas team of psycho-social support in Presevo.


Her work is supported by her colleague – social worker Arta, who regularly completes the careful plan towards the educational and psychological development of children.

“The first six years of a child’s life have e big impact in shaping the human personality. At this age lay the foundations of education at the child’s further life. It’s very important for the child to grow up in an environment full of information and stimulated actions, like simple games, logic games, drawing and learning children’s songs. Children of this age should have diverse experiences, where through the games we can stimulate them towards their emotional development, their social and intellectual maturity”, says Mimoza.


The team is also doing meetings and individual conversations with refugees from the camp, that need their help to overcome their difficulties. Their colleague Arabic translator helps them with those who don’t speak English.

“Our communication with their mothers has been very important. Among them, there were divorced women as well women who lost their husbands during the war. Throughout our experiences in the camp, we have had disabled people, children with Down syndrome, children with mental illnesses, children with Autism, hyperactive children as well as children that had lost parts of their body during the war.


One day, when we were interacting with children, a little boy showed us his 4 wounds from the surgeries, that looked still fresh. This child had not eaten anything for 3 days, and the only thing he asked from us was some food, so we provided food for him and fed him.

We are glad that children are open with us and with other staff members, but on the other hand they are more shy in the interaction with other children, so we also want to focus on their socializing”, said Arta, the Caritas social worker in the Presevo camp.

The work of this team, as well as another one present in Belgrade is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Caritas Germany.


Study visit to Serbia within the project Societies

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Within the project SOCIETIES a study visit was organized from 11 to 13 March, aiming to exchange experiences and examples of good practice in the field of social inclusion between civil society organizations (CSOs)participating in the project. Representatives of 15 CSOs from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo, together…

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Recognition of Caritas Serbia work on disaster risk reduction

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Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina and Caritas Serbia recently received recognition for their exceptional work in disaster risk reduction. On March 1stthey were awarded by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina for supporting disaster risk reduction in their respective countries and co-operating across borders. Caritas Bosnia and Herzegovina’s main contribution was…

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English language classes for refugees in Bujanovac

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Caritas psycho-social support team from Bujanovac Reception Center organises lessons of English language for refugees and migrants, every day, from Monday to Friday. The participants are divided into three groups, in relation to their previous knowledge. They attend classes regularly, with the goal to master the language better. The members…

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