Was wir tun HEKS
Christian Bobst
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HEKS/EPER is making a difference in the «Social inclusion» in Serbia

The wars in Bosnia and Kosovo left Serbia internationally isolated and in economic ruin. The social system had collapsed and poverty and unemployment were rife. Even today some ten per cent of the population still live below the poverty line, and one-third barely above it; 20 per cent are unemployed. Minorities are very severely affected by unemployment and lack of access to social services. On the one hand, HEKS/EPER therefore supports the social and economic inclusion of the roughly half million Roma through improved housing and access to education, healthcare, work and incomes. On the other, HEKS/EPER supports the development of a home care service for sick and older people in rural communities.

HEKS/EPER in Serbia

Facts

Living conditions were improved and land titles legalised for some 350 families in 2019. With the help of HEKS/EPER, 600 Roma children were able to attend secondary school; 1500 people in five refugee camps benefited from upgraded sanitary facilities, while 1130 elderly and sick people were helped by home care services.

Ever more people are being excluded because of their social background, ethnicity, age, gender or religion. Integrating people with a migration background can be compounded, for example, by the lack of the requisite language proficiency, ignorance of Switzerland's cultural specificities or by disadvantages on the job market. HEKS/EPER works actively to ensure that the affected people have access to education, work, government programmes and services. But integration is incumbent on society as a whole, which calls for openness as well as regulatory structures that ensure the right of social participation for all. This implies that everyone has the same rights and opportunities and that features such as gender, age, social background, nationality or religion do not give rise to discrimination.