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The municipality of Shumen is located in the central part of North Eastern Bulgaria. It groups the main city of Shumen and 26 villages with a total population of about 94.000 inhabitants. There are about 2.200 Roma in the municipality, mainly concentrated in three Roma neighbourhoods: Byalata prast, Vitosha and Everest. Some smaller communities are located in the surrounding villages: Vehtovo, Gradishte, Drumevo, Ivanski, Iliya Bluskovo, Salmanovo and Struyino. In the three main Roma neighbourhoods, 90% of the households live in poor illegal housing. The lack of knowledge of Bulgarian language combined with non-attendance in compulsory preschool results in a low level of education. The lack of health insurance for over 60 % of the Roma inhabitants of Shumen is an obstacle to access any health services. Unemployment and lastly anti-Gypsyism are also issues affecting Roma in Shumen.
Shumen joined ROMACT with the signature of the Letter of Commitment by the Mayor on the on 21 November 2013. The Roma Community Action Group was set up with the help of the facilitator by February 2014. The CAG gathers around 10 Roma from Byalata Prast, Everest and Vitosha neighbourhoods, 4 of them being women. The group notably comprises also members such as the health and employment mediators, an NGO representative, former municipal councillor and some active young people.
After four meetings, the representatives of the municipality, together with members of the CAG, had identified and agreed on the priority development needs of the Roma community in the fields of education, health, employment, housing, infrastructure and culture. These needs are addressed in a Joint Action Plan which includes the following measures:
RULE OF LAW AND NON-DISCRIMINATION
The Joint Action Plan was adopted by the Local Council on 29 January 2015. The implementation was however delayed due to the negative attitude of the Deputy Mayor responsible for the Programme and her reluctance to address the issue.
Nevertheless, additionally to what has been decided to be implemented through the Joint Action Plan, some of the initiatives have been already approved by the municipality and their implementation involved the members of the CAG at different levels:
The CAG was also consulted by the municipality on the draft of the Action Plan of Shumen municipality for the implementation of Regional Strategy for Integration of Bulgarian Roma Citizens and Other Civilians in a Vulnerable Social Situation, Living in the Same Situation as Roma 2015-2020.