Inclusion: Promoting the social inclusion of disadvantaged people

Project description

Title: Inclusion of Roma and other marginalised groups in Serbia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Serbia
Lead executing agency: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia
Overall term: 2018 bis 2022


The Roma are Europe’s largest minority. The actual number can only be estimated because Roma often do not have valid identity papers, are not registered or identify themselves as such. According to the last population census in 2011, around 147,000 Roma are living in Serbia. This is equivalent to 2.1 per cent of the population. However, international organisations estimate that this number is significantly higher at up to 500,000 people.

Members of Roma communities are among the particularly needy and disadvantaged population groups in Serbia. They suffer discrimination and face higher risks of poverty. They are far less likely to find work than other jobseekers and often live in settlements where the provision of clean water, waste collection and sanitation services is either lacking or poor. In some cases, they have to wait longer for treatment at health centres and hospitals and they often suffer discrimination at school and in vocational education and training (VET). Roma are confronted with many prejudices throughout their lives. It is claimed that they cannot be integrated into society due to their strong family ties and traditions or that they do not want to go to school or work. These are just two examples. Roma have often internalised these preconceptions and believe that they will continue to be denied the opportunity for social advancement, creating a vicious circle.

Approximately 80 per cent of people who return voluntarily or under the EU readmission agreement from Western Europe to Serbia are Roma. Many of these families have no accommodation, knowledge of the Serbian language, or officially recognised documents. This applies particularly to the area of educational qualifications. They have difficulties in accessing the Serbian labour market.


Society, politics, private sector and administration in Serbia follow the requirements of the national Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Roma.


The project supports the Serbian Government in implementing the Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Roma. A coordinating body bears primary responsibility. The project advises the body on establishing structures and documenting the implementation process. It also supports the overarching cooperation and networking of all participating state and local stakeholders as well as the development and strengthening of a national monitoring and evaluation system.

The project strengthens structures and mechanisms and supports inclusion policies in selected municipalities. Plans envisage the provision of, for example, Roma coordinators, health mediators, educational assistants and trustees of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. In order to comply with the requirements of ‘leave no one behind’ in line with the 2030 Agenda, the project works with the Roma minority, which is the most vulnerable in Serbia, while also supporting other disadvantaged population groups. Particular emphasis is placed on the economic and social reintegration of returnees.

The project develops and implements anti-discrimination measures, which helps reduce prejudice and discrimination, particularly against Roma women who face multiple discrimination. The stakeholders involved and disadvantaged individuals are made aware of this issue and are empowered to assert their rights. The project seeks to challenge existing prejudices while developing knowledge and expertise in anti-discrimination work.