Supplementary appeal: Comprehensive solutions for the protracted refugee situation in Serbia
Serbia hosts one of the largest refugee populations in Europe. By the end of January 2009, there were 96,490 registered refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) living in Serbia. Most of the refugees live in private accommodation, while a small percentage remains in 56 official collective centres (CCs). UNHCR programmes focus primarily on achieving durable solutions for these vulnerable groups. Out of the total 96,490 refugees - 69,298 are from Croatia and 27,114 are from Bosnia Herzegovina.
Between 1996 and 2009 the refugee population in Serbia decreased by more than 80 per cent, as a result of returns to BiH and Croatia, local integration in Serbia as well as of resettlement programmes. UNHCR activities increasingly focused on assisting and achieving durable solutions for the most vulnerable groups among remaining refugees.
This project is designed to support the implementation of the High Commissioner's Special Initiative on Protracted Refugee Situations, which focuses on five situations in different parts of the world where refugees have been living in exile for long periods of time. Bosnian and Croatian refugees in Serbia have been identified as in particular need of support.
This Special Initiative on Protracted Refugee Situations pays particular attention to the promotion of livelihoods and self-reliance. The ultimate objective is to phase out the longstanding assistance programme for that population.
In December 2008 UNHCR and Serbian authorities agreed to make a last effort towards ensuring that the remaining refugees in Serbia would find a durable solution, either through return or local integration, so that within a two year period this situation would finally be resolved.
To expedite solutions for this protracted situation, UNHCR also strengthened its cooperation with the Croatian authorities in the sphere of housing assistance programmes.. These programmes are instrumental for sustaining returns of refugees from Serbia. Cooperation extends to the timely review and processing of individual refugee applications for either reconstruction of destroyed properties or for alternative housing assistance.
The main objectives of UNHCR's operation addressing comprehensive solutions for protracted refugee situation in Serbia in 2009 are:
- To improve shelter / housing
- To improve self-reliance and livelihoods
- To increase level of individual civil documentation
- To strengthen international and regional instruments related to rights in a country of origin
- To contribute to the transparency and fairness of administrative proceedings related to housing assistance programmes
- To accelerate the processing of individual refugee applications by Croatian authorities
- To share best practices for the review of applications/appeals by the newly established appellate body in Croatia
The most vulnerable refugees living in collective accommodation or in unsuitable private homes in Serbia will find durable solutions either through local integration or by returning to their country of origin. An estimated 5,000 refugees are expected to benefit directly from this project. An additional 20,000 people will benefit from the naturalization campaign and will take citizenship in Serbia. Additionally, the project will accelerate the processing as well as the review of some 12, 500 appeal cases by returnees in Croatia.
Programme at a glance
|Title||Comprehensive solutions for the
protracted refugee situation in Serbia
|Beneficiaries||17,500 refugees directly and additional 50,000 indirectly|
|Time frame||12 months|
|Total requirements||USD 7,863,489|