Combating the causes of migration and shaping the future: With numerous projects, we are helping people in Serbia to realize their right to a self-determined life. We are particularly committed to promoting disadvantaged groups such as the Roma.
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The long shadow of poverty
In 1992, Yugoslavia broke up with an unprecedented eruption of violence. Years of heavy fighting and war crimes followed in the Western Balkans, resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 people. The damage to the economy and infrastructure is still felt today, as are the rifts between countries and ethnic groups.
In the summer of 2006, the Republic of Serbia was founded after Montenegro voted for independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, which had existed since 2003. Economically, Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, is now on the path to modernization. However, the Serbian economy is still marked by the socialist legacy and the years of war. The vocational training system does not adequately prepare young people for the job market. High unemployment and poverty are the consequences.
Minorities such as the Roma, most of whom came to Serbia from Kosovo in 1999, are particularly disadvantaged. They suffer from economic and social discrimination. Many families are desperately poor and live in overcrowded shantytowns on the outskirts of the city. Many Roma keep their heads above water by doing informal work, such as collecting waste.
The engine of independence
Since 1999, Help has assisted thousands of people in Serbia. Our projects always aim to sustainably combat poverty and the causes of migration. All the people we support are severely disadvantaged socially and economically.
Help is mainly committed to small business assistance in Serbia. We strengthen regional initiatives, promote the establishment of start-ups and small businesses, and train entrepreneurs in setting up and running their companies. In addition, we provide young people with access to vocational training. The focus of our work is the promotion of women, people with disabilities and disadvantaged social groups such as the Roma, who often find it difficult to enter the workforce.
Help is also committed to improving the working conditions of the many informal waste pickers in Serbia. Help provides them with protective clothing, conducts training and creates permanent jobs with fair pay.
In recent years, Help has repeatedly provided emergency aid to refugees along the Balkan route, parts of which pass through Serbia. We have provided those seeking protection with food, warm clothing and hygiene articles.
Came to stay
Eleonora Alijevic, her husband and three children travelled to Germany in search of a better future. But the family’s application for asylum was rejected, and they had to return to their home town, Vranje. To make ends meet, her husband gets by with odd jobs from the municipal utility companies. He transports firewood, collects rubbish and takes up any opportunity to earn money.
Eleonora and her husband want to give their children a better future: their youngest daughter is going to primary school, her sister is training as a seamstress, and their son supports them in the household alongside school.
But there’s another “member of the family”, as Eleonora puts it: the Motocultivator. With the small tractor funded by Help, the family can transport large quantities of firewood and earn an income from selling it: without the Motocultivator, the family’s basic income would not be secure. “My husband transports firewood to the town with the tractor almost every day and earns money to pay for our food – we live off it,” says Eleonora.
- 6.9 million people are living in Serbia (2021)
- 9.2 percent of Serbians are officially unemployed; the number of unreported cases is probably much higher (2023)
- The average net income is about 588 euros per month (2023)
- According to official figures, there are 100,000 Roma living in Serbia, but experts estimate that there are up to half a million (2023)
- Only about 20 percent of Roma have a permanent job, and only 12 percent of young people graduate from high school (2023)
- Help has so far provided small business assistance to 6,337 families in Serbia.
- 34 cooperatives are able to generate a regular income thanks to the support.
- Help has created housing for 1,281 disadvantaged families (housing reconstruction, renovations, construction of prefabricated houses).
- 1.742 Roma families were supported by Help.
- Along the Serbian Balkan route, Help provided 120,000 refugees with food, hygiene items and warm clothing.
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IBAN: DE47 3708 0040 0240 0030 00
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