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The model of cooperation in the reintegration of Roma returnees developed by the United Nations Development Program in Serbia (UNDP in Serbia), the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE) and the Standing Conference of the Roma Associations of the Citizens – League of Roma (SKRUG) was presented at a workshop within the annual international Conference of the International STEAM Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR). A workshop titled “Cooperation through Cooperatives” was held on September 26 at the Novi Sad Fair.

Among the panelists at the workshop were: Sonja Licht, President of the BFPE, Predrag Vuletić (Provincial Secretary for Social Policy, Demography and Gender Equality), Steliana Nedera (Deputy Resident Representative of the UN in Serbia), Osman Balić (SKRUG), Stevan Nikolic (Roma coordinator, City of Subotica), Dejan Bajramovic (Vranje city), Pavle Golicin (consultant), Danilo Curcic (human rights consultant), Maša Bubanj (HELP Serbia), and Jelena Sapic from the Center for Public Policy Research (CENTAR).

The model of cooperatives and cooperation in the local community was developed as a tool of promoting the sustainable integration of returnees in Serbia. Also, the results of field research on the experiences of Roma returnees in Subotica, Nis and Vranje, three local self-governments in which the model was successfully implemented, are presented. In the further course of the workshop, special attention was paid to women, young people and children as the most vulnerable groups of returnees. The aim of the workshop was, among other things, was that the participants continue to debate the challenges that Roma returnees face and other strategies for the sustainable integration of Roma returnees, as well as to consider how cooperatives could contribute to the integration of the most vulnerable groups of returnees.

Among the most important conclusions from the discussions that developed during the course of the event, was that it is necessary to adopt a valid Law on Social Enterprises in order to provide an adequate framework for functioning for the returnee, Roma and other forms of cooperatives, as well as the fact that it is necessary that representatives of public authorities at central and local level use examples of good practice, such as the model of cooperation and co-operation that come from the practice of the civil sector and international organizations, and incorporate them into relevant policy proposals and practices.

The event was also broadcasted by media, and the report about event could be found within the Romano Radio broadcast of Belgrade Radio.

The broader ISHHR conference had as a topic the problem of displacing local communities as a result of conflicts, the phenomenon of mass traumatization, and the response of Europe (especially Central Europe) to the mass influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa

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