Rapporteur: Mr Nikolaos DENDIAS, Greece, Group of the European's People Party
Twelve years after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and eight years after the armed conflict in Kosovo, over half a million refugees and displaced people still remain in the region. The figure represents the most vulnerable persons, including elderly people without family support, traumatised survivors of atrocities, sick and disabled persons, single mothers, national minorities or persons in need of witness-protection. They have been neglected ina recent years as a result of a lack of local resources and humanitarian aid.
The Assembly insists that providing an adequate response to the needs of refugees, returnees and Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and enacting a government strategy to find durable solutions for their voluntary and sustainable return or local integration should be much higher on the political agenda in all countries of the region.
The governments should set out clear legal and institutional frameworks and provide the necessary financial resources; implement the international human rights instruments to avoid statelessness and grant special protection, including for members of national minorities; undertake administrative, judicial and police reforms to facilitate local integration and voluntary return in safety and dignity; simplify and speed up the process of status determination; support free legal aid and assistance provided by Ombudspersons and local non-governmental organisations; use the criteria of vulnerability for priority assistance; find lasting solutions for people in the collective centres; and give priority to economic revival, reconstruction and mine clearance in the return areas.
The Assembly calls on the member states, the Council of Europe and the Council of Europe Development Bank to fully support this process, and on the European Union to maintain the political momentum in the region with a clear European integration perspective.