Brussels, 17 March 2000 - The European Commission has adopted two decisions to support the Return of Refugees and Displaced persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Obnova 2000 Integrated Return Programme provides financing of € 50.1 million for a package of measures which have been designed to ensure sustainable return movements. The Commission has also decided to continue with support of € 2 million to the work of the Commission for Real Property Claims (CRPC).
Return of Refugees and Displaced persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Assistance will be provided for the reconstruction of housing and the rehabilitation of related infrastructure, income generation measures, demining and for measures to provide legal advice and assistance to refugees and displaced persons. This ambitious Programme has been designed in close cooperation with the Return and Reconstruction Task Force which brings together the major actors in the return process, including the Office of the High Representative and UN Agencies. It will support breakthrough return movements to previously closed municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina which have been specifically identified in both the Federation and Republika Srpska. It will also support regional return movements from Croatia. A maximum degree of flexibility has been built into the Programme, including a fund which will allow for the rapid mobilisation of resources to sustain spontaneous return movements. The Obnova 2000 Integrated Return Programme will compliment similar programmes from 1998 and 1999. A Call for Proposals to select the implementing partners for the housing and related activities component of the programme was launched on 26 January. It is planned to sign the contracts with the selected organisations in May allowing substantial implementation to take place during this year's construction season. The Programme will account for roughly half of the total assistance which will be provided to the country under the Obnova programme this year. This reflects the importance which the Commission and the international community attaches to return. A successful return process is fundamental for the creation of a stable Bosnia and Herzegovina and is one of the cornerstones of the General Framework Agreement for Peace (Dayton Agreement).
The Commission for Real Property Claims (CRPC)
The CRPC was established under the Dayton Agreement and is the key decision making body on property issues affecting dispossessed people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In total it has registered more than 175,000 claims and has issued approximately 65,000 final and binding decisions. During this year the focus of its work will be on claims processing and adjudication. The Commission has already provided support amounting to € 5.7 million to CRPC since 1996.
Both of the above decisions should be viewed in the context of the commitment of the EU and its member states to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU has committed funds amounting to more than € 1.3 billion to the country between 1996 and 1999.