Donate for South East Europe

Finding a place in one’s own country

Reintegration and prospects for staying for returnees and socially disadvantaged people

Leaving your own home country because of poverty is a frightening decision, but it is also linked to a sense of optimism. By contrast, having to return because you are not allowed to stay in the country where you have sought refuge destroys all hope.

Although most returnees go back to their home countries willingly, they do so filled with great anxiety about their future and their children. They are returning to a home where they have been unable to find work, to a place where they can provide for themselves only through hard toil in the subsistence economy or from precarious odd jobs. If they are lucky, they have family abroad, who can support them when the burden becomes too much.


Flight from the Western Balkan states

The number of asylum applications by people from the Western Balkan states rose sharply again in Germany between 2011 and 2015. Only a small percentage of these applications are likely to succeed.

Whereas in the period up until 2014 it was mainly Roma who left their home countries due to the social inequality that they face, other ethnic groups have also sought asylum since 2015, in particular people from Serbia and Albania.

Asylum applications in Germany by people from the Western Balkan states reached a peak in 2015 with 144,000 first and follow-up applications. Although the numbers are now falling again, the causes of flight are far from being resolved. Serbia has experienced a significant rise in refugees and has become a destination country for asylum seekers itself. It is therefore all the more important to support the country with measures to promote economic and social stability. This calls for holistic approaches and collaboration between different stakeholders.


Opportunities in the home country instead of flight into uncertainty

Help launched its first programme to support voluntary returnees and extremely marginalised people in Serbia in 2018.

Among other support, the affected individuals receive advice on access to the health and education system in 13 integration centres. Depending on their needs, they are also referred to public authorities and partner organisations, such as local Roma associations.

Alongside social integration, economic security is a crucial factor in leading a self-determined life. Help therefore supports its target group with setting up micro and small enterprises and funds vocational training courses.
 

In addition to this, a dignified life requires suitable living conditions. Running water and appropriate sanitary facilities are by no means available to everyone in Serbia. As a third component of its work, Help therefore builds social housing and renovates existing housing units. Children no longer need to feel ashamed in front of their better-off classmates, suitable hygiene conditions are put in place, and adults have better access to the job market.


“I want our very hard-working and talented youth not to migrate, but to contribute to our country.”
Rrezart Shala, Senior Field Officer Kosovo


What we have achieved: 

  • „530 business training and network meetings have been run
  • 245 vocational training courses, study trips and trade fairs have been hosted
  • 320 housing units have been built or renovated
  • 530 micro and small enterprises and four cooperatives have been set up and supported
  • 300 children have received school materials
  • We operate: 13 information centres for returnees and those in need of aid
  • 320 families have been supported with furniture and household utensils
  • 337 people have participated in language

(Investment to date: €5 million)


The Roma Cultural Centre in Niš promotes cultural exchanges between Roma and non-Roma citizens. It also serves as a venue for projects that seek to strengthen disadvantaged people’s economic situation. Help supported the centre with setting up a sewing workshop, which is used as a training centre.

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© Judith Büthe

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Contact

Timo Stegelmann
Do you have any questions about our work in South East Europe?
Timo Stegelmann
will be happy to help you:
+49(0)228 91529-26
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