Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Appeal No. 01.73/2003 Annual Report

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Target: CHF 1,337,355 (USD 1,044,824/ EUR 863,467)
Coverage: 79.7% (Click here to go directly to the Financial Report)
Overall analysis of the programme

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has made substantial progress in its painful transition from a post-conflict society. The major achievements in this year have been the adoption of the joint Common Core Curriculum in primary and secondary schools in both entities, which ensures equal access to educational opportunities for all; the adoption of the Law on Indirect Tax Administration; transfer of responsibility for the return process and human rights protection from international community to BiH control. As a result of this progress, the European Commission approved a Feasibility Study in November, and the European Union announced plans to open negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with BiH in 2004. This was on the condition that BiH makes significant progress in the 16 areas identified in the Feasibility Study as priorities for action.

The majority of these 16 conditions are related to economic reforms, four on the rule of law, three on issues of governance, one on co-operation with the International Crime Tribunal in The Hague and one on public broadcasting. Moreover, NATO welcomed the progress that BiH had made with parliamentary approval of the State Defence Law in December, which put in place the state level defence structures. It was one of the prerequisites for BiH's membership of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme. Another positive signal came from SFOR (Stabilisation Forces), who confirmed in December that, due to the improved security situation in

Bosnia and Herzegovina, it will reduce its military presence from the current 12,000 to about 7,000 soldiers by June 2004.

In spite of the fact that the number of returns in 2003 did not reach the figure of the record reached in 2002, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics show that 54,315 people returned to their homes during 2003, of which 44,868 are so called minority returnees. In the course of eight post war years, out of 2.2 million forcibly displaced during the conflict, 985,003 refugees and displaced persons, including 434, 206 minority returnees , managed to come back to their places of origin, due to the accelerated implementation of the property Law (the overall implementation ratio reached 92.5 % at the end of December) and improved security situation throughout the country. Their return represents only the first step in the whole process of re-integration in the pre-war communities , as the local authorities need to ensure that education, job opportunities, social benefits and services are equally accessible to all. There are still 327,000 displaced persons within Bosnia and Herzegovina, including 2,000 accommodated in collective shelters.

The Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to implement various programmes to improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in the country, thus enhancing its image among the population and promoting the Red Cross Fundamental principles and humanitarian values. Its main activities were in the areas of Disaster Preparedness (14 Emergency Response Units were established), Disaster Response (emergency appeals were launched with the support of the International Federation in order to assist the most needy returnees, as well as drinking water was provided for the southern parts of the country affected by drought), Health Care, Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law, Tracing and Mine Awareness.

In Organisational Development, the National Society (NS) gave particular attention to its human resources (Office Manager - in the absence of a Secretary General-, Population Movement Co-ordinator and Finance Manager were recruited in the course of 2003 at the NS Headquarters level) and the RCSBiH actively recruited volunteers from all sections within the community, including vulnerable groups (especially returnee volunteers within the Populat ion Movement Programme). Fund-raising potential remained limited, so to boost its profile in the community, the NS trained more than 100 professional Red Cross staff and volunteers in information/ communication skills.

The international components of the Movement operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to co-operate very closely in order to provide maximum contribution to strengthening the RCSBiH structure. Apart from the International Federation and the ICRC, there are two partner national societies present in the country (Swiss and Spanish), while the Danish Red Cross pulled out in July after seven years of work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the second half of the year, the RCSBiH established bilateral programmes with German and Swedish RC within the Population Movement programme.

According to the regional strategic plan (2+2), the Federation Country Representation Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be maintained in 2004 and will provide support to the National Society in the four core areas defined in Strategy 2010. The International Federation continued to reduce the number of staff and at the end of the year , there was a country representative and two national staff in Sarajevo and two more national staff in the sub-regional disaster management office in Trebinje.

Unlike the previous couple of years, when the Federation was faced with severe funding problems which affected implementation of some objectives in the appeal, donors' support for the Federation programmes was relatively good this year. On the other hand, some of the objectives in the Appeal for 2003 were not fully achieved, mainly due to the very complex environment in which the National Society operates, as well as to the RCSBiH internal weaknesses. As a result, some of the NS's priorities have been deferred to 2004.

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