Bosnia and Herzegovina

EU helps Bosnia and Herzegovina manage refugees' return

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The European Commission is supporting a UNDP initiative to help Bosnia and Herzegovina take over responsibilities from the international community for assisting hundreds of thousands of refugees and other displaced people return home.
The 2.12 million euros in initial funding for the 14-month project will go towards rebuilding homes for returnees and for improving management of the returnee programme at the national level.

More than 900,000 refugees and displaced people have already returned to their communities since the signing of the Dayton peace accords that ended the country's devastating conflict in 1996, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

This is more than halfway towards the goal of helping everyone uprooted by the conflict return home.

"This initiative will be very challenging for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it will be decisive in ensuring successful national ownership of the returnee programme," said Henrik Kolstrup, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator.

Close collaboration between national authorities, the European Commission, UNDP and other partners will play a key role in promoting effective donor participation in support of the initiative, he noted.

Municipalities participating will receive training and assistance in developing and carrying out projects for returnees that include strong community involvement. The project is expected to help municipalities renovate at least 150 homes for priority cases, providing a model that can be used by towns and cities throughout the country.

The project will also help improve management at government agencies and assist the State Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons and the State Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees in setting priorities on returnees. These steps will prepare for the transfer of responsibility for the returnee programme to national authorities as international funding and support is gradually reduced.

Kresimir Zubak, Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, said he hoped that the project "will assist government capacity building and enable ministries to accomplish programmatic tasks related to the return and resettlement of refugees and displaced persons."

UNDP developed the project in close cooperation with the ministries involved, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, among other partners, also provided input.

For further information please contact Nela Kacmarcik, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Sandra Pralong, UNDP Regional Support Centre, Bratislava, Slovak Republic.