Review of the returnees UNHCR – EU support programme in BiH

Review of the returnees UNHCR – EU support programme in BiH

UNHCR in BiH co-funded the project “Support to durable solutions of Revised Annex VII DPA Implementation Strategy” with 1.1 million euros. The project provided assistance for at least 2,400 families of returnees and displaced persons in the last three years, by means of an innovative methodology of teamwork to help the neediest.

EU was the other co-founder and these international institutions cooperated on many other projects in the state. In order to review recent activities they organized the meeting in Sarajevo with the aim to address the most severe of the remaining problems of the wartime displacement in BiH. The project is coming to a close on the last day of this year, and the meeting reviewed the results achieved during its implementation, but also discussed how to replicate in further work on Annex VII the effective and innovative procedures and approaches applied in this project.

The project was launched in 2014 in Brcko District BiH, Bijeljina, Bosanski Petrovac, Derventa, Foca, Gradiska, Maglaj, Mostar, Prijedor and Zivinice, assisting vulnerable displaced persons and returnees in BiH in finding solutions to their remaining problems of displacement.

The meeting of the Extended Project Implementation Team, co-chaired by the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and the UNHCR Representation in BiH, gathered participants from the Delegation of the European Union to BiH, Brčko District BiH and nine participating cities/municipalities, the Entity displacement ministries as well as the seven implementing partner organizations – United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Children’s Fund, the International Organization for Migration, Hilfswerk Austria International, Bosnian Humanitarian Logistics Service, Foundation for Local Democracy and the association “Vaša prava BiH”.

“Over the three year period, 762 grants were awarded for self-employment and income generation; 242 producers received financial incentives, training and technical support connecting them with marketing companies by means of “value chains”; 10 small and medium-sized enterprises received financial assistance to create new jobs; free legal aid was provided to more than 10,000 people and their families; basic social protection and inclusion services for about 600 children from vulnerable families were ensured; home health care was made available for 276 elderly people, and related mechanisms and capacities of local communities were strengthened, while 179 housing units with basic infrastructure were built and rehabilitated”, announced the EU Delegation in BiH..

Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and co-chair of the Project’s Steering Board, Semiha Borovac emphasized that it is important to point out that this project began to change the awareness and listen closely to the real needs of the displaced persons.

“An entirely new approach to solving these problems was introduced in a way that the (re)construction of returnee homes was accompanied by measures of economic sustainability, which is the key for the overall sustainability of returns. Because, for the return to be sustainable it is not enough just to secure shelter, but also living conditions worthy of human beings in the 21st century, which is a much more demanding and complex part of the job. This project has proven that all this is very much feasible”, Borovac said.

The three-year project is financed by the European Union with 7 million euros from IPA funds.

This project introduced a new methodology for the implementation of the DPA Annex VII Revised Strategy, consisting of needs-based multi-sectoral teamwork between local authorities and communities, civil society, project partners and beneficiaries themselves, and allowing far more vulnerable displaced families to be reached than originally planned.

“The challenge now is for BiH authorities at all levels to continue to apply this innovative approach to bring solutions to those displaced and returnee families who remain most in need”, said Andrew Mayne, UNHCR Regional Representative for South Eastern Europe and co-chair of the Project’s Steering Board./IBNA