Access of Roma to Education and Health care services, 2002

Raykova’s report, Tuzla 2002


December 2001 – January 2002

The report was prepared with the assistance of
Mrs. Indira Bajramović – chairperson of Roma Women Association “Bolja Budućnost” in Tuzla Canton, who has been contracted by UNICEF - Office in Sarajevo.
Special thanks also to the OSCE mission in Sarajevo and Tuzla for their kind assistance
during the two field visits.

By Alexandra RAYKOVA
Council of Europe Consultant





      Situation and problems of the Roma people
      Ministry Initiatives


      Some general conclusions of the reporter, based on meeting with the Cantonal Ministers
      Some concerns expressed by the Ministers

    5. BUKINJE
    6. KROJćICA
    7. LJUBAćE
    10. KISELJAK
    11. GRADAčAC
    12. BANOVIćI


      Related to access of Roma to education
      Related to access of Roma to health care


      To the International Institutions/Organisations
      To the OSCE mission to BiH
      To the Authorities of BiH
      To the Roma NGOs
      To the Advisory Board on Roma issues


      Related to access of Roma to education
      Related to access of Roma to health care



This report has been produced in the framework of the joint Council of Europe/OSCE-ODIHR/European Commission Project – “Roma under the Stability Pact”.

On 12 November 2001 a Meeting took place in Vogošća on the Establishment of a National Advisory Board for Roma , co-organised by the OSCE mission to Sarajevo, the Council of Europe, OSCE-ODIHR and Open Society (Roma Participation Programme) Representatives of Roma NGOs1 and authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Roma international experts and representatives of international organisations present in Bosnia and Herzegovina took part in this meeting. As the result of the election by Roma NGOs of 9 Roma representatives2 covering the two Entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the adoption of recommendations (platform) in different fields (education, employment, health, housing/property, political participation and refugees issues), the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees committed itself to establish an Advisory Board on Roma Affairs in 2002.

One of the observations made by authorities at that meeting was the lack of relevant data and figures regarding the situation of Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina in all fields. Roma NGOs were requested to produce more detailed information at the first meeting of the Advisory Board for Roma.

In an effort to assist Roma representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the development of a National Action Plan, it was announced at the aforementioned meeting that Council of Europe – in co-operation with UNICEF – would organise two fact-finding visits in Tuzla Canton on education and health issues.

The purpose of this report is to assess the situation and the needs of Roma in two priority areas, access to education and health in order that this information be used at the first meeting of the Advisory Board on Roma issues.

It is prepared to support in the reflection and designing of policy and concrete projects and activities, aimed at improving the access of the Roma to education and health care, as well the general status of the Roma community in Tuzla Canton, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter “FBiH”).

The report is targeting not only the Advisory Board, but also:
The Government and the local authorities of FBiH;
International Institutions and organisations;
Roma NGOs;
non-Roma NGOs and
other actors, which are dealing with Roma issues.

The reporter held two field visits of different municipalities in Tuzla Canton, in December 2001 and January 2002.

The information presented in the report was collected and the following recommendations were prepared, on the basis of:
Visits and interviews of Roma people from: Tuzla (Bukinje, Ljubaće, Krojčica, Crvene njive), Kiseljak, Gradačac (Požarike, Begovina), Živinice and Banovići,
Meetings with Cantonal and local authorities;
Meetings with INGOs;
Meetings with representatives of Roma NGOs;
General and specific (on Roma issues) reports produced by different organisations.


Tuzla Canton (hereafter “TC”) is one of the 10 Cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH)3. The Canton consists of 14 municipalities.

According to the census, held immediately after the war in 1996, the population of Tuzla Canton was around 510,000 people of which around 13,0004 were Roma.

Presently this are no available exact information concerning the number of the Roma population in the Canton. According to the chairperson of the organisation “Sa E Roma” – Mr. Šaban Mujić, it is around 15,000.

While Sarajevo is the administrative Center of FBiH, Tuzla Canton is the industrial one. In comparison with other Cantons in TC there is a number of factories that are working (AIDA – Shoe factory, Brewery, Salt Factory, DITA – Detergents and Cosmetics, TDI – Polyurethane Chemistry5, Building Factory, Cocks and Cement factories, etc) as well: Power plant/station, seven Cocks, etc.

Nevertheless the level of the unemployment in TC is quite high.
Around 74,000 people are registered as unemployed. From the registered unemployed only 43,0006 have health insurance.

Here are some of the characteristics of TC:
It is the Canton with the largest number of Roma within the population in FBiH;
It is the Canton with the biggest number of Roma NGOs in FBiH;
It is the Canton which provides the best quality health care in FBiH7 (The Canton has: Medical University, University Clinical Center “Gradina”, three Hospitals, a Health Center, fourteen Municipal Health Centers and a number of Private clinics. Many of the staff have specialized in foreign countries. Very good co-operation is developed between different Cantonal health services and some of the best medical centers around the world. Foreign specialists come to practice and share experiences in the local hospitals8).
It has the largest number of Roma children that are attending school9.



During the war many Roma from Tuzla Canton, emigrated to Germany, Austria, Netherlands and other countries.

Presently there is no available exact information about the number of Roma, or the situation and needs of each Roma community in the Canton. According to the observations of the reporter, the number of Roma is below 13,000.

The Roma are dispersed throughout TC. There are Roma in almost all municipalities of TC, namely in: Tuzla, Živinice, Lukavac, Banovići, Gracanica, Gradačac and Sapna.

The largest groups are living in Živinice (800 – 900 people) and in Lukavac (around 500 people).

    Large number of Roma people does not speak Romanes (Roma language) at all. In some communities, Roma are speaking Bosnian as first language, in other Romanes. But most of them do not have proper knowledge of the language that they are using, whether Romanes or Bosnian.

More than 60% of the overall Roma population in TC are children and young people up to 25 years.

The Roma population consists of:
Local Roma (Domaći - Roma that are born in BiH, have not emigrated during the war and are still living in TC).
Returnees (Povratnici - Roma that immigrated during the war to Western European countries, mainly to Germany).
Internally Displaced People (Roma displaced from RS10).

All are confronted with the same problems: wide-spread poverty, unemployment, low or often lack of any education, lack of professional qualification, lack of health insurance, bad housing conditions, lack of proper identity documents, etc.

Some of the interviewed Roma IDPs (based in Ljubaće), are confronted in addition with property repossession problems. It is difficult for most of the Roma IDPs to deal with these problems, due to the:

Complex/problematic situation of their families;
Inability to deal and to solve the problems (comes from the lack of social skills or lack of information and knowledge about their civil rights, lack of awareness and knowledge, where to address the specific administrative problem.);
Complex administrative structure, which leads to the confusion of the people about the mandate and the responsibilities of each of those structures;
Bureaucratic obstacles.

Situation and problems of the Roma in Tuzla Canton

According to statements of interviewed Roma, before the war the economic and the general status of the Roma community has been better in comparison with the present moment.

At that time around 90% of the Roma were employed. Roma had the status of national minority in Republic BiH, Yugoslavia. Presently Roma are not recognized as such in BiH11.

As citizens of their country the Roma joined the army and participated in the war. As many others, Roma people died during the war, and some became invalid. Many of the war invalids have not received any compensation, because either they were not aware about the administrative procedures and the deadlines, or they have been unaware about the necessary documents and the institutions to be addressed.

After the war the first to be unemployed from the factories were the Roma people. Presently around 100% of the Roma in TC are unemployed.

Around 90% of the Roma do not have health insurance, and are totally excluded from access to health care services.

At present more than 60% of the Roma in TC are illiterate, around 80% are without any professional qualification. There are only two Roma students in the University of Tuzla. Around 80 % of the Roma children do not attend school.

Great number of Roma is living without basic living conditions. Many families do not have access to water or electricity.

The social welfare is practically not providing any benefits to the great majority of the Roma, who obviously need them.

Most of the Roma women and children are providing for the survival of the family with begging, which according to law is criminal act.


    According to the State and the Cantonal constitution policy making and policy implementation are decentralized. This is so for education and the health policies, which are formulated and implemented at Cantonal level by the respective Ministries.

    That means that Cantonal policy making and implementation are conditioned to a great extent by the existing Cantonal resources, in particular the financial.

    The positive aspect in such administrative system is that it allows development and implementation of policies and programs, based on specific needs and opportunities.

    The negative aspect is heavy/complex administration, which is creating obstacles for citizens to address the relevant institution on particular problem.

    There is a clear distinction in the fields of activity and a clear division of tasks between the different Ministries and their structures. There are however problems which are under the jurisdiction of two or more Ministries, it require co-operation in the implementation of programs. This is the case with the Roma community.

    Meeting with the Ministers of Health and Education12:
    Some general conclusions of the reporter:

1) The Roma issues are not a priority for the authorities;

2) The Roma problems are not clearly identified and recorded, as it is believed that the Roma should not be specifically targeted and their needs and problems should not be specifically approached. According to them such approaches might be understood or perceived as positive discrimination;

3) There is a lack of awareness that the Roma community is facing bigger problems than any other ethnic or minority group and that in order to integrate into the same legislative and operational frames as the other citizens, the Roma should have equal opportunities, which they do not have so far;

4) It was expressed, particularly by the Minister of Health that there is willingness and readiness from the institutional side to co-operate with INGOs (Roma and non-Roma NGOs) and other actors in communicating and deciding on concrete steps towards integrating the Roma people into the existing legislative and operational system.

Some of the concerns expressed by both Ministers:

Many organisations including International ones are designing and implementing projects in general and within the Roma communities, without informing and consulting with the respective Ministry;
The Ministries do not even have a record of all organisations, which are working on the field;
Many organisations are coming, working and going, without leaving long-term consequence for the population of the Canton;
Many of those are spending resources, but at the end are not reaching their targets;
In relation to the situation of the Roma community, it is difficult to identify, communicate and co-operate with representatives of the Roma community, as there are many organisations and the Ministers do not know which ones are representative. According to them, the Roma NGOs are not co-operative among themselves and that is creating an extra obstacle to work on Roma issues.

In relation to the last concern, both Ministers expressed satisfaction that an Advisory Board is to be established as a representative body of the Roma NGOs, where Roma issues would be addressed13.

Ministry Initiatives:

Both Ministries of Health and Education provided information about the initiatives of their respective Ministries concerning the Roma community. They have implemented some of the initiatives, others have been supported by other organisations.

The Ministry of Education responded positively to a request for support concerning the implementation of the following projects submitted by UNIJE Roma BiH: “Patrin” (“Page”), “Imamo pravo na Život” (“We have the right of life”), “Spašavajamo romsku djecu” ( “Save the Roma children”), “Jedinstveni romski rječnik” ( “Roma Dictionary”).

The Ministry of Education supported the implementation of a project aiming at producing and printing a Dictionary of the Romani language. The Ministry also partially contributed financially to the implementation of this project.

Some activities of Roma associations, such as conferences and seminars, were supported with a total amount of 1,500 KM.

For the present year, the Ministry drew an estimate budget of 6,000 KM for activities of Roma associations. The budget, after approval, has been reduced to 4,000 KM. The funding is foreseen for the co-ordination and/or the work of the Roma associations, as well as for co-operation with the municipal Roma associations situated on the territory of TC, which aims at implementing activities and facilitating contacts on Roma issues.

On the 16.02.2001, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of TC signed a co-operation agreement with the Center for Educational Initiatives “Step by step” – Sarajevo. The organisation established pre-schooling class of Roma children in the Secondary school in Kiseljak. In order to implement the project, innovative working methods with Roma children and their parents were envisaged. The Roma children, who took part in the aforementioned pre-schooling class, successfully passed the programme and are now studying in the 1st regular class in 2001/2002.

According to the sighed agreement, the Ministry is providing funding for pre-schooling class of Roma children for the school year 2001/2002. The number of the children included in the class is 38. Apart from the teacher, there are also two Roma assistants with middle education involved in the project. The annual budget foreseen for the running of the pre-school class for Roma children in 2001/2002 is 6,000 KM.

Upon request of the Roma Cantonal Association “Romski san”, the Ministry of Health organised in July 2001, in the ambulatory hospital of Kiseljak, examination of 410 Roma people.

A team of 10 different medical specialists, a nurse, and a number of technical staff ensured the examination of 90 children, 30 gynecological examinations, 21 ophthalmologic. 28 were examined by neuropsyhiatrist, 30 by internist and the rest by general practitioners. 30 diabetics had blood tests and other 30 Roma with cardiologic diseases had EKG.

The doctors concluded that the most frequent diagnoses of the examined Roma, are: Hypertensio arterialis, Diabetes mellituss, Bronchitisi, Urinare infections and other. All examined received medicines for free, which were provided by different sources.

Upon request of Roma Women Association “Bolja Budućnost”, the Minister of Health arranged with the University Clinical Center the treatment of two pregnant Roma women for free, including childbirth.


Bukinje is 6 km faraway from the city center of Tuzla. There are 8 families that are living in a two-floor house.

Years ago, the municipality displaced these families from Bankerova ulica (Bankerova Street) from the city center.

All adults were interviewed and declared that they are unemployed. The families are surviving through begging food and money. The ones that are begging are mainly women and children. Sometimes the men find temporary jobs, mainly one-day jobs.

Only one of the families in the house is having health insurance, as the men have been long time registered with the unemployment service.

Some of the Roma in this house, including children are chronically disabled.

One of the interviewed women declared that she is diabetic, but she is not receiving free medicines. Monthly She has to pay around 10 KM14 monthly for the necessary medicines.

Her brother, who is living on the second floor with his 10 members family, has bronchitis and asthma. The asthma has been genetically transmitted to some of his children.

Except for one boy, none of the children is attending school. One girl, 10 years old, stated that she is willing to attend school, but the father is not allowing her. The parents declared that the children are not going to school due to lack of financial means.

Duraković Fikreta is 71 years old. She lives alone with her 12-year-old grand son.
Fikreta is receiving 45 KM monthly from the social services. As she has never worked, she is not receiving pension.
His parents abandoned the child that Fikreta is taking care of many years ago. Since 8 years, Fikreta knows nothing about her son – the father of the kid. The mother left them a few years ago.
Recently Fikreta heard that her daughter-in-law lost both her legs in a car accident.
The grand son of Fikreta is the only Roma child from Bukinje, that is attending school, but it is very difficult for the old woman and the child to survive with 45 KM per month.


Z is 45 years old. Her ethnic background is half Roma, half Bosnjak, but she identifies herself as Roma.
Z was 15 years old, when she got married. Her husband left her because she is not able to have children. She is unemployed. In order to survive she works as a prostitute. Z is earning 5 – 10 KM per sance.
As she has not got her menstruation for 3 months, Z is thinking that she is pregnant. In my opinion she probably has hormonal problems, but Z has not had herself examined, as she is not receiving health insurance and does not have an insurance booklet.


Krojćica is also a locality in Tuzla. In Krojćica there are 11 families, out of which 9 are IDPs from (Bjeljina and Zvornik, RS).

There is only one house, which is providing good living conditions. The rest of the families are living in improvised living spaces. The electricity has been only recently set up in this locality. There is still no water.

There are 32 children in all. 10 are not of school age. Only 4 are attending secondary school. 6 had to start school this year, but their parents did not sign-up. Another 12 have never been to school and are too old to start attending regular school.

None of the people is working and none is having health insurance. All are surviving from begging and collecting metals.

Hidanović Suada – 30 years old, is a single mother, who is living with 5 kids in one room. Until recently she was without electricity in this room and the children were studying on a candle. They are still without water in the house. 4 of the children go to secondary school. They do not have health insurance. Suada is unemployed. She is begging.


Ljubaće is a locality, around 17 km away from Tuzla. There are around 10 houses inhabited by Roma.

One family is a local Roma. 15 people are living in one of the houses - IDPs from Bratunac (RS) and other 7 families are IDPs from Zvornik (RS). So, far they cannot get their property in RS. The problem is that at present families who are not willing to leave occupy their houses. The houses of some of those IDPs families were destroyed during the war.

The only employed Roma man from Ljubaće is from the local family and he and his family have health insurance. For the rest, none is working and none is having health insurance. They are begging, collecting metals, selling old/second use clothes on the market. 6-7 children are going to elementary and secondary school.

One woman is 7-months pregnant with her third child, but she does not have health insurance. She does not know how to solve that problem, as both she and her husband are unemployed and have no financial income.

Crvene Njive

The locality “Crvene Njive” is situated in Tuzla. In this locality the population is mixed: Roma and non-Roma people.

The Roma population in this locality is around 350 – 400 people, who are based in 60 – 70 houses.

None of the Roma is employed. The majority lives on begging, collecting metals and trading clothes (which they buy from Hungary or Turkey). Most of those who are trading clothes are taking money on credit from banks.

The great majority is not receiving any social benefits/support from the social services.

The majority of the children is illiterate, as during the war they have not been at school. Presently they are 15 years and older and the only solution for them is to attend evening school.

Around 20 children are attending school and from that 3 are attending middle schools.

Maximum 10% are registered in the unemployment service and around the same are having health insurance.

There are several solid houses, which were built before the war. Most of the houses are not providing the necessary living conditions.

One of these IDPs families from Bjeljina (RS), is the family of Ifeta Alimanović, who is disabled (without right hand).
Ifeta is 51 years old and she is a single mother of two mentally retarded young people (girl 28 years old and boy around 26 years old). They live on begging.


The case of Alimanović Sadmir is not unique or exceptional.
Sadmir is 11 years old. When he was born, his mother left him to the grand mother and got married out of Tuzla.
Sadmir does not have a birth certificate and for that reason, he cannot even sign for school.
in order to issue a birth certificate for the child, his mother was investigated by the police, but unsuccessfully.
Sadmir has epilepsy and meningitis.
He is begging together with his grand mother.

They are old houses, weakly constructed and very damage. That is one of the reasons why many children and women are suffering from bronchitis and asthma. 3 children were born with myocardium. As their families do not have financial resources, they cannot afford treatment. The health status of these women and children can only get worse.

In Crvene Njive there are 5 families, who are IDPs from Bjeljina (RS). They cannot go back to their homes as they have been destroyed during the war. They are not receiving health insurance, or social support/benefits.

Most of the children that were interviewed stated that the only reason that they are not attending school is that the parents do not have financial means to provide them with the necessary material in order to attend school.


Živince is 25km away from Tuzla. There are 5 localities inhabited by Roma: Ciljuge, Bišinska, Savino brdo, Rasadnik and Đurđevik.

“In Živinice 50% of the general population is living below the basic minimum. More than 8,000 are unemployed. In comparison the situation of the Roma is the worst. The access of Roma to education and health care is below the basic minimum.”15

In total there are between 800 – 90016 Roma people that are living on the territory of the municipality. The children from 0 to 18 years old are 285. Only 42 are attending school: 38 the secondary school and 4 (3 boys and one girl) the middle school. The number of illiterate children older than 10 years is 110.

Around 90 % from the Roma in Živinice are without health insurance.

In Bišinska the inhabitants are mainly returnees from Germany. They have newly constructed houses. But the Roma there state that they are in a difficult economic situation, because none of the people is employed. Some of the Roma live on trading of clothes, but most of the Roma in Živinice survive on begging.

There are houses in a very bad condition and localities with several infrastructural problems, such as: Đurđevik and Ciljuge).

Presently 39 Roma families in Živinice do not have electricity.

According to Mr. Kupusovič, Deputy Mayor of Živince, the first issue that the Roma community have to deal with, is the ownership of the Roma houses, which in many cases are built on municipal or private property. This will change their attitude towards property and towards their role and position in society.

There is a Municipal Department dealing with such issues. The Roma have to get acquainted with the administrative procedure and under which conditions Roma can become owners of the land on which their houses are built.

The municipality is ready to look for an opportunity to provide Roma children in need with some school materials.

Although the Municipality in Živinice is having great financial problems and is not able to provide for concrete actions towards improving the situation of the Roma community, the Municipal authorities are ready to provide total support to the International Community for implementing such activities.


In 3 Roma localities that are part of Kiseljak there are between 35017 to 480 Roma people18.

In terms of infrastructure, there are differences between the Roma localities in Kiseljak.

One of the localities has very solid houses, due to the fact that before the war many Roma men from that locality worked abroad and managed to provide for building of such houses. In one of the localities around 6 houses are in a very bad condition.

Around 95% of the Roma in Kiseljak are unemployed. Women live on begging and men on temporary work.

The specificity of Kiseljak is that most of the Roma children are attending the secondary school “2nd October”. The number of those graduating from the secondary school, however, is small.

4 young Roma (1 girl and 3 boys) are attending intermediate schools in Tuzla, were they will graduate with professional qualifications.

Each day these young people travel 80 minutes to go to school and back by public transport.
One of the difficulties expressed by the girl attending intermediate school in Tuzla, is that they do not have all necessary student books and materials, although they received some from the organisation “Sae Roma”.

Moreover, they have to afford monthly the cost of public transport (the student price is 36 KM).

In Kiseljak there is a medical cabinet, which is working daily from 8h00 to 12h00. The General Practitioner is examining only pensioners and unemployed women. In addition if necessary there is the possibility of receiving some medicines.

Further medical assistance and treatment can be obtained only in Tuzla.

Paramedical service - if requested - has to be paid for, even if the person concerned has health insurance.

The rest of the population including children can be examined only in Tuzla. The cost of one ticket for the public transport is 2 KM.

The Roma organisation “SaE Roma” is running several projects in Kiseljak. One of that is the Roma Cultural and Education center. The Center runs a folk group, professional qualification training courses, English language courses for young people, and courses on computer use.

Apart from that, “SaE Roma” has an infrastructure project for constructing 29 houses for families living in the worst conditions. The municipality has provided already the land for the building of those houses.

For 3 years the organisation has been implementing a project for reintegrating Roma children in the secondary school.

The family of Arifa Bajrić is living in great misery. 8 persons (six children + 2 parents) in one room.
Arifa and her husband Kasim had 7 children. In 2000 one of them (3,5 years old) died.
Arifa and Kasim were confronted with great difficulties to bury the child, because it had not birth certificate.
Still none of the children have a birth certificate, because the parents can not afford payment of the tax for the issue of a certificate (around 2 KM each) and the transport cost to Zavidovići (around 15 – 20 KM).
To my question why she had so many children, when she does not have conditions to raise them, she answered that until 1997 she did not know about the existence of contraceptives.
Kasim earns his living from begging arround 10 KM per day, but that is not sufficient to provide food for a large family.
He has been imprisoned for begging once for 1 month and 10 days.
Presently Kasim is again imprisoned, because of begging, for a period of 15 days.


Ajka Mustafić is 27 yers old. She is a single mother with one 3,5 years old kid. Ajka is living together with her mother, who has a pension of 100 KM, and a cousin of hers – a young orphan girl.
7 years Ajka has been suffering from muscular distrophy. At present she is not able to walk at all. Ajka is receiving only 45 KM a month from the social services, as single mother.
Ajka stated that she was refused a disability pension because her mother is still alive.



Gradačac is based in the very north part of FbiH, at the border with RS.

About 150 Roma people are living in two localities in Gradačac (Begovina and Požarike). Even before the war the Roma these two localities have been living in nearly the same, very bad conditions.

As Gradačac was in the front line, all Roma men from both Roma localities participated in the war. None of the families received any compansation for that.
It is very easy to recognise, which are the Roma houses in Požarike. Contrary to the houses of the Bosniaks, none of the houses of the Roma was repaired. None of the families got a new house.

100% of the Roma in Gradačac are unemployed. Only 3 children from Požarike are attending school. The rest from both localities are not attending school. Over 80 % of the people are illiterate.

Men are providing a living by collecting metals and other stuff that can be collected from the containers. Recently it is becoming even more difficult to find anything in the containers. The women and children are supporting the families by begging.

According to the statements of the Roma, the local social services are providing them monthly (sometimes less frequently) with 8 kilos of flour and a litre of oil.

Most of them have been registered in the unemployment bureau, but as none is receiving any social benefits not even not a health insurance, most are not sighning up anymore.

Sulič Jafer was born in 1963, in Bjeljina, but his mother brought him to Gradačac, as a baby.
Jafer does not have and never had an identity card or even a birth certificate. This was not considered as an obstacle for participating in the war.
Jafer and his wife have2 girls. One has recently married to one of the boys in a neighboring barrack.
Jafer is living with the little one and his wife in a very old car, without tires, as their barrack burned 2 years ago.
The family does not even have covers for sleeping during the cold winter nights.
Jafer fought in the war and as a result he is partly deaf, but is not necessary receiving an invalidity pension.


52 year old Šečić Mustafa is living with 10 children in 4 m3 barrack.
Mustafa is not working. The children are begging to provide some bread.
2 months ago, his wife – Ganiba, had her 11th child and died a month later of asthma. According to Mustafa, Ganiba’s live could have been saved if she had had health insurance.

The Roma are not receiving humanitarian aid from any local or International institution or organisation.

The only Roma NGO that is in contact with them is “Crni Biseri”, which is based in RS.

Begovina is probably one of the poorest Roma localities in TC. It is isolated from the center of Gradačac and if people need something they go a few kilometers to the centre on foot.

There are 9 families with over 37 children in Begovina. Most of them are living in barracks. One family of two adults and one child is living in an old car. There is no water in the locality.

None of them has health insurance. The question of education can not even be raised for the moment, as conditions for survival in this locality are non-existent.
Only one Roma family has documents for ownership of their barrack. Some do not have birth certificates.

For the Roma in Begovina, “Kiseljak is Paris” and the Roma there receive most of the provided support.


The 2 Roma localities in Banovići are: Šišići/Oskova and Čubrić BB. Mainly IDPs from Bjeljina (RS) live in Šišići/Oskova.

At the beginning of the war in 1992, when the Roma emigrated to Germany, the houses of the Roma were completely destroyed…by the local population. Still there are statements from the majority that the Roma have to assimilate the culture and to follow the decisions and traditions of the Muslim population.

According to the information provided by the local Roma, in total Banovići are living around 310. Around 160 people are situated in Čubrić.

Čubrić is isolated from the center of the town and is very difficult to reach, especially in winter.

Except for 4 families, all Roma in Čubrić are returnees from Germany.

Except for 5 families, all were provided with houses (30) from the German organisation “CARE”.

The specificity of this locality is, that the Roma there have several problems with the majority population and the local authorities.

The school and the health center are 4 km away from town. The school is providing free transport, for the children, who are attending secondary school. For the ones that are attending the middle school, the fare for the same bus is 17 KM monthly.

Only 20 children form Čubrić are attending secondary school. 3 from Banovići are attending middle professional schools.

Two children of the 5 members family are attending middle schools. The family is based in Mušići. There are only 2 Roma houses. Only the father of those children - Hajrudin Bajramović - is working. He stated that the family is encountering lots of difficulties to survive economically and they are still in debts, because the parents had to provide for the schoolbooks and materials for their children. None is providing any kind of support to the family or the children.

Large numbers of Young Roma from Čubrić are illiterate, due to the fact that during school age they were emigrants. Most of them are willing to get to learn how to write or even to attend evening school. But most of all the Young Roma want to be employed, in order to be able to provide a living for their families.

The Roma stated that a large number of the Roma children are not attending school, due to financial problems.

The main sources of money are collecting of scrap metal and begging, as 100 % are unemployed.

To the question on how they are dealing with a woman who has to give birth, the answer was that, in most of the cases the women are escaping with the baby from the hospital which is why many children do not have birth certificates.

The Roma people in Banovići do not see any perspectives for their future life or for for the lives of their children.



The situation of the Roma people in TC and in general in BIH is among the worst, if not the worst within the Roma community in Europe.

Obviously the situation is difficult for the general population of BiH as well, but for the Roma people is definitely worse.

The present situation of the Roma community is very bad and what is even more tragic is that all different aspects, which concerns the perspectives for possible change/improvement of the Roma situation, are problematic, such as:
Economic, social and legal status;
Majority/Roma relations;
Promotion of respect of their basic human and civil rights;
Irrelevant legislation (lack of social welfare, exclusion from access to health care, etc.);
Insufficiently capable Roma NGOs;
authorities (Cantonal and local), international institutions and organisations unaware about the real situation and the needs of the Roma population;
Lack of policies and;
Lack of relevant working approaches towards Roma issues.

This means that those pre-conditions have to be implemented first in parallel or before starting implementation of specifically aimed and targeted programs and projects.

Related to access of Roma to education

1. When looking into the education of the Roma people one should examine not only the situation of the Roma people related to their formal education, but all aspects as follows:
Formal education;
Non-formal education;
Professional qualification and re-qualification;
Children’s education, but also adult education.

2. To be able to understand the situation concerning the education of the Roma children, one should be able to understand the overall economic and cultural situation of their families and how education is valued within the respective family. If the parents are having some education it is very likely that the children in the family are going to school on a relatively regular basis;

3. In general the level of education of the Roma in Tuzla Canton, is very low. Most of the adults have elementary or no education at all. Around 60% are illiterate;

4. Around 80 % of the Roma have no professional qualification;

5. At the moment, education is not a high priority within the value system of the Roma parents, as most of the Roma families are living in great poverty and naturally the first priority is providing for survival;

6. Children are involved in providing for the survival of their families as well. Many are begging on the streets, working with the parents at the markets, and looking for temporary work;

7. Most of the families have more than 3 children, usually 5 or 6;

8. If the family has an opportunity to send any of the children to school, the boys are preferred to the girls. In some families education for girls is not favored at all, even if the child is willing to study;

9. Primary education is compulsory for any citizen of the Canton, but practically nothing is happening to ensure the implementation of that law;

10. The main reasons why around 80 % of the Roma children do not attend school are:
When the war started many of the children that were supposed to start attending school, did not sign-up. At present they are relatively old in the perception of their parents and in their own perception to start studying. Many are now realizing the need of education, but are not finding the adequate form which can provide them that education;
Very difficult economic situation of the Roma families, great poverty, unemployment, struggling for survival and lack of perspectives, which are putting the children often in a position of contributors/providers for the survival of the family;
As a result of the above, education is very low in the value system of the great majority of Roma. A significant part of Roma families obviously do not even include it at all in their value system as they are living in great poverty and naturally the first priority is providing for survival;
Lack of positive role models in the Roma community;
Lack of awareness about the problem as well about the possible working approaches and projects, which can be implemented by the authorities, as well as by the NGOs.

Related to access of Roma to Health care

1. There are different reasons why 90% of the Roma do not have health insurance, and are totally excluded from access to health care services, inter alia:
unemployment and poverty;
inadequacy of the relevant legislation;
lack of awareness and knowledge of basic civil rights;
isolation of the Roma settlements from the health centers;
lack of institutions and organisations, which are working to address that issue, etc.

2. All interviewed Roma stated that even if they had health insurance, it would have been still difficult for them to afford the participation fee requested for examination, treatment, etc. including the fees for the paramedical support;

3. Large number of the Roma population is suffering from diseases, including chronic diseases, but often the families are not able to afford examination, treatment or to purchase necessary medicines. People with chronic disabilities do not receive free medicines;

4. There are Roma families who are living in old, weakly constructed and damage houses, which is another reason for chronic disability;

5. The possibility to get pension for disability depends on a number of social criteria different than the type and the stage of the disability;

6. Roma women are frequently escaping from the hospitals with their babies, after the childbirth, because they are not able to pay for it. As a result, the families are not having the birth certificates of the children. This has some effect when children need to sign up for attending school, since it is impossible without this document.



    1. Foster the signing, ratification, enforcement, reinforcement and implementation of existing legal instruments for the promotion and protection of basic human and civil rights and especially children’s rights. (UN Human Rights Declaration, European Convention for Protection of the Human Rights, European Social Charter, Framework Convention for Protection of the National Minorities, Convention for Protection of Children’s Rights, Charter/Convention for Equal Participation of Women in the Society);

    2. Establish instruments and promote practices for monitoring the implementation of the above-mentioned, as well as Human Rights abuse;

    3. Encourage the review of existing Federal and Cantonal legislation (especially social and health legislation), in order to make it comprehensive and to adopt it to European standards;

      - Method proposed: Organise desk review of the existing health and social legislation with the participation of local and international legal experts. As a result concrete proposals for improvement/adaptation of the legislation can be made.

    4. Raise awareness among authorities governmental and local, INGOs, Roma NGOs and other actors, about the situation and the needs of the Roma minority;

      - Method proposed: Organise or support the organisation of meetings at Cantonal level on the “Situation and perspectives of the Roma Community”.

    5. Initiate debates for the establishment of co-operation between the different actors, aimed at improving the level of communication among them, the negotiation of comprehensive working approaches and best use of existing resourses (especially those already existing in the field);

    6. Change working approaches from providing humanitarian aid to community development; capacity building of Roma NGOs, lobbying and advocacy, raising and providing funding for projects aimed at promotion of these changes;

    7. Promote Roma issue as a priority issue within the policies of the different actors and encourage the establishment of strategies and concrete/specific programmes aimed at improving the specifically bad general situation of the Roma community, as well as at providing it with equal opportunities for integration into the existing legislative, operational systems and into the society in general.

    8. Promote the collection of data on the present situation and needs of the Roma communities;

    9. Promote the role of the media in raising awareness among the general population about the problems faced by the Roma minority;

    10. Support Governmental and non-governmental programs aimed at improving the situation of the Roma community and in particular the access to education and health care, by providing them with the necessary means: financial, consultancy and training;

    11. Strengthen and empower the Roma NGOs through capacity building (including institutional development and funding of specifically prioritised projects, training of the existing as well as new leadership), the organisation of study visits to foreign Roma NGOs, etc.;

    12. Promote the role of the Roma Women and Youth into the community development;

    13. Monitor the work of the Advisory Board on Roma issues;

    14. Provide relevant consultancy to the work of the Advisory Board;

    15. Reinforce the role of the Ombudsmen in working on Roma issues.

To the OSCE mission to BiH

    1. Set up the Roma issue as a priority issue within the policy of the OSCE mission to BiH;

    2. Develop strategy and program, aimed at the improvement of the general situation of the Roma population;

    3. Set up concrete working priorities within this program, such as: capacity building of Roma NGOs, improving of the access of Roma people to education and health care, etc.;

    4. Use the existing competence among Human Rights Offices (HROs), the available information and the established contacts between them and the Roma NGOs/communities, in order to develop concrete action plans of OSCE at the very local level;

    5. Raise awareness among staff about the situation of the Roma communities (where it is appropriate/ in AoRs19 populated with large Roma communities);

    6. Provide space for exchange, among Human Rights Offices, of good working practices on Roma issues;

    7. Provide the staff with additional knowledge and concrete skills required for working on Roma issues;

    8. Set up pilot project in co-operation with the office in Tuzla, aimed as recommendation No.3;

    9. For this Roma project extend the AoR of the office in Tuzla for the entire Canton;

    10. Extend the mandate of the Human Rights Office, which will co-ordinate the project and give clear definition of tasks including:
    Establishment of working contacts with different actors: Roma NGOs, Governmental and local authorities, international NGOs, etc;
    Advocacy and mediation of problems between Roma communities/Roma NGOs and authorities;
    Fundraising and funding of Roma projects within a certain priority frame (for example projects aimed at improving the access of Roma to education);
    Providing assistance for the development and implementation of the projects;
    Monitoring financially supported projects and other projects;
    Focus on capacity building of Roma NGOs, as well as of individuals. Provide them with relevant training as mentioned in recommendation No. 1 to Roma NGOs.

    11. Allocate the necessary means for that, such as:

      Staff including one or two assistants with Roma background (this will be of mutual benefit for the management of the programmeme, also in terms of capacity building within the community);
      The appropriate person for the position of co-coordinator of such pilot local project of OSCE in Tuzla Canton seems to be Ms. Nathalie Gautier, Human Rights Office, OSCE mission to Tuzla.

    12. Provide the local pilot project with consultancy at the level of the Head office in Sarajevo; For this purpose and also for the purpose of recommendation N 13, it should be ensured that the position of Roma officer is maintained. The experience, competence and presence of Mr. Martin Demirovski and Ms. Jo-Anne Bishop of the Human Rights Office of the OSCE mission to Sarajevo are of crucial importance for the work that has been started and carried from OSCE in the field of the Roma issues in BiH. The contracts of Mr. Demirovski and Ms. Bishop should be extended at least for one year more in order to ensure the continuity of the work and sustainability of the results.

    13. Monitor the work of the Advisory Board and where appropriate provide consultancy;

    14. Investigate the issue with the identity documents of the Roma people in Strajevac/Modricha, RS.


1. Collect concrete data and information related to the present situation and needs of the different Roma communities;

2. Raise awareness among authorities at different levels, about the specifically bad situation of the Roma minority;

3. Promote the Roma issue as priority issue, within the policies of the authorities at all levels;

4. Encourage establishment of policies and programs, aimed at the improvement of the general situation of the Roma communities, as well as specific issues, which presently are affecting mostly the Roma minority;

5. Allocate recourses for implementation of such programs:

        Raise funds – local and international;
        Allocate human resources;
        Provide necessary working competencies.

6. Establish co-operation between authorities at different levels, International Institutions/Organisations, Roma NGOs;

7. Review and adopt relevant legislation;

8. Support and facilitate implementation of specific programs/ projects of different actors, especially Roma NGOs, aimed at improvement of the mentioned present situation of the Roma community;

9. Support and facilitate the implementation of the specific recommendations of this report aimed at improving the access of the Roma people to education and health care;

10. Request the International Institutions to provide the necessary support for the implementation of the recommendations.


    1. Focus on capacity building within the organisations. Encourage participation of the staff and the volunteers in trainings on:

        Organisational management;
        Project management;
        PR (with authorities, media, etc)
        Leadership skills;
        Collecting information and establishing databases.

    2. Change the working approach from distribution of humanitarian aid to community development. As there are still many communities that need humanitarian aid and Roma people perceive this support to be in kind, initially use both working approaches in parallel.

    3. Develop concrete projects and activities aimed at improving the situation of the Roma community;

    4. Focus on awareness raising among the Roma community about basic Human and Civil rights as well as about the administrative structure and some basic relevant legislation;

    5. Provide consultancy on a daily basis to Roma individuals and communities, where specific problems can be addressed;

    6. Focus on mediation of problems between Roma communities/individuals and authorities.

Possible methods:

Establish Community Consultative/Self support Centres (for the implementation of recommendations 5 and 6)
Run projects for radio broadcasting (for the implementation of recommendations 4 and 5). Such project has been developed already by the organisation “Bolja Budocnost”. Some preparatory work has been done already as well. Funding has to be raised.
Organise the issuing of regular written media, such as newspaper or magazine, which can be accessible both for Roma, as well as for the non-Roma population, authorities, etc. Consider the experience of “Sae Roma” on issuing of monthly Bulletin on Roma issues.

    7. Focus on development of Young and Youth leadership;

    8. Promote the role of the Roma women within the community development;

    9. Develop co-operative working approaches and practices as among the Roma NGOs, as well as with non-Roma NGOs;

    10. Establish contacts, get informed about and use the capacities, resources and consultancy of the International organisation present on the field;


      1. Compose the Advisory Board of Governmental representatives and the Roma Council;

      2. In order to guarantee equal participation, commitment and a democratic decision making process, while deciding upon the structure of the Advisory Board introduce co-chairing of the Board by Governmental representative and the Roma Council;

      3. Encourage an annual rotation principle of chairing the Roma Council, as well as the Advisory Board;

      4. Set up a policy with priority working fields and develop a concrete action plan;

      5. Request external support and consultancy from the International Institutions;

      6. As the situation of the Roma people in RS seems to be also very problematic, I strongly recommend the number of the representatives of Roma NGOs from RS in the Roma Council to be extended, if not in a capacity of full members, at least as observers. Such possibility can provide these representatives with useful information, strengthen their leadership skills, multiply positive experiences and activities in RS, etc.


    Related to improvement of the access of Roma people to education

A. To improve the access of Roma to education: not only short-term, but both long-term and short-term/immediate policies and measures should be designed.

    1. The long - term, should be aimed at:

Improving the overall situation (especially economic) of the Roma families, in order to create equal opportunities for the families, to send their children to school such as:

          - Employment,
          - Housing conditions,
          - Promotion of role models, etc.

Raising awareness among Roma families and children about the importance of education through organising meetings with the Roma parents, involvement of role models including foreign ones, using/focusing on positive personal experiences;

    2. Short-term/immediate measures:

Supporting, designing and implementing programmes/projects aimed at pre-schooling for Roma children

          - with ensured transportation of the children from their homes to school;
          - providing at least one meal free of charge at school and
          - providing the necessary materials;

Supporting, designing and implementing programmes/projects, aimed at mentoring, within relevant format and conditions, of Roma children in secondary schools;

Providing shoes, clothes, text books and other relevant school materials, as well the regular taxes;

For Young Roma people that are willing to continue their education, opportunities and forms have to be provided, such as: free evening schools, scholarships, educational materials and tools, etc;

Design and support scholarship programmes for University students, student in middle schools, and for good students in secondary school;

Design projects that are running kindergarten activities for Roma children;

Promote establishment of University programmes for Roma social workers and medical staff;

Design projects and support programmes and projects aimed at providing professional qualification and re-qualification courses in parallel or after literacy courses. Young Roma people should be targeted in priority. The focus of professional training should be on qualification that allow Roma to be independent of the employment market such as: the building industry, professional drivers, hairdressers, swing, tapestry, handcrafts, etc.;

Organise and implement different forms of non-formal education for the different age groups. Focus on providing social skills and awareness about basic, Human and Civil rights and as well on administrative structure and other relevant matters.

Related to the improvement of access to health cares services:

    1. Review and adaptation of the health legislation and policy, together or in parallel with the social policy in order to make them comprehensive and up to the European standards;

        - The unemployed should automatically get health insurance while registering in the unemployment service. The local or the Cantonal authorities should ensure payment;
        - The amount of the so called participation in the payment of the different kinds of interventions or treatment has to be reconsidered;
        - Children and elderly people should be able to have health insurance under a reduced number of conditions;
        - Chronically disabled and pregnant women (including childbirth) should also be treated free of charge or minimally;
        - Medicines have to be provided free to chronically disabled.

    2. Support, design and implement concrete projects aimed at improving the access of Roma to health care;

    3. Support, establish and run health cabinets/clinics in the biggest Roma communities, to provide free examination and first care medicines. Apart from a GP and a nurse, provide the health cabinets/clinics with a gynecologist, as well as with relevant equipment;

    4. To ensure access of Roma communities free to paramedical interventions;

    5. To raise the level of the health and sexual education of the Roma community in general and specifically of the Roma women and Young people.

        - Organise seminars on Female/Male anatomy, contraception methods, hygiene, how to raise a baby, etc.
        - Provide awareness raising and informative training to community leaders and young multipliers about basic health legislation and system.

    6. Supporting, designing and implementing drug abuse prevention programs, although it is not an issue yet for the Roma community;

    7. Support and encourage establishment of University program for Roma medical staff.


Minister of Health
Tuzla Canton, BiH
Nedred Mujkancvič
Phone: + 387 35 282 44

Minister of Education
Tuzla Canton, BiH
Enes Duvnjakovič
Phone: + 387 35 281 296

Council of Europe
Michael Guet
Project Manager
“Roma under Stability Pact”
DG III – Roma/Gypsies Division
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France
Phone: +33/3 90 21 49 63
Fax : +33/3 88 41 27 31

Nicolae Gheorghe
Special Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues
Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues
19 Ujazdowskie Avenue
PL-00-557 WARSAW, Poland
Phone: +48/22 520 06 00
Fax: +48/22 520 06 05

OSCE mission to BiH - Sarajevo
Martin Demirovski / Jo-Anne Bishop
Roma Officer / Liaison Officer
Pehlivanusa 3/II
71 000 Sarajevo
Phone : + 387 33 292 360
Fax: + 387 33 238 224
E-mail: or

OSCE mission to BiH - Tuzla
Nathalie Gautier
Human Rights Officer
OSCE Regional Centre
Solanska 3
75 000 Tuzla
Phone: + 387 35 282 52
Fax: + 387 35 282 525

Jill Zarchin / Amela Saskić
Child Development Project Officers
Kolodvorska 6
BiH-71 000 Sarajevo
Phone: + 387 33 230 118
Fax: + 387 33 642 970
e-mail: or

World Vision
Azra Jususfi
CEDS Specialist/PEDS Project Manager
Zvornicka 9
BiH-71 000 Sarajevo
Phone: + 387 33 230 426
Fax: + 387 33 652 403

Save the Children UK
Suzdina Bijedić
Programmeme Development Officer
Ul. Matije Grupca 13,
75 000 Tuzla
Phone/Fax: + 387 35/ 250 109, 237 086

Svetlana Pejdah

75000 Tuzla
Phone: + 387 35 289 030

UNICEF Consultant for this Project
Indira Bajramović
Chairperson of Woman Association “Bolja Budućnost” and Member of the Council of Roma
ul. Ismeta Mujezinovica br. 26
75 000Tuzla
Tel/fax: + 387 35 26 10 09
Tel: + 387 35 23 70 48

Council of Europe Consultant for this Project
Alexandra Raykova
Foundation for Promotion of Roma Youth
99 Suhodolska str.
Tel: +359/

1 Non-governmental organisations.

2 These nine representatives later registered as “the Council of Roma of Bosnia and Herzegovina” and elected their president, Mr Selim Ferhatović. Apart from Ms Indira Bajramović, who assisted the consultant in preparing this report, two other members of the Council of Roma are from Tuzla canton: Mr Ahmet Mujić, Chairperson “Romski san”, Rudarska 61, 75 000Tuzla, Tel/fax: + 387 35 284 051, GSM: + 387 66 280 814 and Mr Šaban Mujić, Chairperson “ Sa E Roma”, Dzafer Mahala br. 4, 75 000 Tuzla, Tel/fax: + 387 35 265 487, e-mail: .

3 The State of Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided into two Entities: on the one hand, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is divided itself into 10 Cantons, and, on the other hand, Republika Srpska.

4 Information provided by Mr. Nedred Mujkanović – Health Minister of Tuzla Canton.

5 TDI closed recently.

6 Information provided by Mrs. Indira Bajramović





Republika Srps

11 ka

According to draft legislation on minorities, the status of national minority should be granted to Rom

12 a.

Minister of Health: Nedred Mujkanovič, Phone: + 387 35 282 447; Minister of Education: Enes Duvnjakovič, Phone: + 387 35 281 29

13 6.

The BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees proposed to etablish such a National Advisory Board on Roma in February 2002

14 .


15 M.

Statement of Mr. Omer Kupusović– Deputy Mayor of Živinic

16 e.

Information provided by Mr. Muradif Biberović – chairperson of “Rom Živince

17 ”.

According to Indira Bajramovich, chairperson of “Bolja Buduchnos

18 t”

According to Šaban Mujic, chairperson of “SAE Roma

19 ”.

Area of Responsibilit