Group 484 is a non-governmental organisation founded in 1995 tosupport the organisation of 484 refugee families who had found refuge in Serbia after fleeing Krajina and Operation “Storm” of the Croatian Army. Group 484 was named after these 484 families. The founder of Group 484 was Jelena Šantić, a renowned ballet dancer and peace activist, who was awarded the Pax Christi International Annual Peace Prize in 1996.
From an initial group of enthusiasts who provided humanitarian, psychosocial, legal and informative assistance to refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and later to displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija (since 1999) and returnees from western Europe(since 2001), Group 484 has become a structured organisation using a systemic approach to the issues of forced migration and migration in general. Direct assistance has been gradually extended to educational and research activities in order to influence decision makers to craft durable solutions. Besides empowering forced migrants, Group 484 has also aimed at empowering local communities, especially youth, to be open and tolerant towards diversity among peoples. Since its establishment, Group 484 has been empowering both the beneficiaries and its staff and the organisation as a whole, transforming it into a modern organisation capable of meeting the needs of beneficiaries and responding to migration challenges in the region.
Ever since it was founded, through its programmes, Group 484 has provided support and assistance to over 100,000 beneficiaries. We have worked in more than 70 towns in Serbia, formed a strong and efficient network of associates, and we have also initiated and participated in regional initiatives.
We conduct our activities through three programmes and we aim at assisting and strengthening forced and voluntary migrants, but also local communities, especially youth.
Three Programmes of Group 484
Having in mind the fact that beneficiaries’ needs have changed in time, and that in comparative experience of European countries some modern solutions for integration of vulnerable groups have been defined, Group 484 is developing the PRIMO Programme – Integrated Support Programme, based on socio-economic principles. Through this Programme, we support vulnerable groups and encourage them to actively participate in tackling economic and social issues: through self-employment, associations and social cooperatives, and by establishing social enterprises. Furthermore, we support the development of new and innovative providers of social protection services and inclusion of civil sector and social enterprises into social welfare system. We encourage national institutions to develop a favourable legal and strategic framework funded from public resources and recognising the principles of inclusive economy defined in the EU Agenda 2020. In this regard, Group 484 advocates the development and implementation of public-private partnership that includes civil society organisations and performing the activities of public interest at both national and local level.
In the society we live in there is still an emphasised sense of distance from other ethnic and cultural communities. Group 484 is developing a Programme ‘We and the Others’, as a response to a high level of politicization of culture and education, most frequently of a national nature. We nourish professional work standards, so that the methods and results of our work could become a corpus of institutional knowledge and skills, providing that a social consensus is reached on making human rights and system of values that incorporates a respect for differences, priorities. We advocate that school reading books include the books by authors from the region, a concept of history teaching that emphasises social history and multi-perspectiveness when teaching children about past, interactive teaching methods intended for secondary school students and university students (here we are referring to readers clubs, research teams, activist groups), and cooperation with schools, universities and museums. By teaching students about the history of everyday life and regional literature, we prompt critical thinking, teach them to observe differences in society as a value and richness that should be respected and developed. We advocate system solutions that would introduce this way of thinking and working with youth into schools, universities and cultural institutions: we achieve this by participating in relevant public events and through our own publications. In 2012, we are working under a slogan ‘Action: reanimation’.
Group 484 has for more than a decade now been contributing to the development of migration policy in Serbia and the region by developing an analytic approach to measures and policies related to forced (refugees and the displaced, returnees based on the Readmission Agreement, and asylum seekers) and voluntary migration. In 2011, Centre for Migration (CEMI) was established as the organisation’s think-tank department. Now we are developing the Centre’s structure, team, web site, and its library, and establishing cooperation with institutions and universities in the country and abroad. The Centre’s members publish articles in national and foreign magazines, and participate in important national and international meetings dealing with migration issues. The Centre conducts researches on the status of forced and voluntary migrants. We are dedicated to increasing the visibility of the position of forced and voluntary migrants, and to increasing the visibility of developmental potential (economic and democratic) that migration has. We tend to empower key stakeholders in the field of migration – civil society organisations (CSOs), representatives of institutions, decision makers at local and national level, and representatives of academic community to monitor, in their respective fields, the status of migrants and develop and implement plans and programmes in accordance with their interests. We advocate that local, national, and European policies that regulate migration flows, but also development policies in Serbia, are based on theoretic concepts and empirical researches, fully respecting migrants’ needs and rights.
Group 484’s Vision
The world in which people have equal opportunities to exercise their rights and realise their potentials wherever they wish, while being ethnically and culturally diverse.
Group 484’s Mission
Through its activities in Serbia and the region of Southeast Europe, Group 484, together with migrants, local population, and especially with youth, and in cooperation with organisations and individuals that foster similar values – has been building up a society in which diversity and rights of everyone are respected.