By Nevena Šarenac – Sarajevo
The US attaches great importance to the program of regional housing and a permanent solution to the problem of refugees and displaced persons, and it will continue to financilly support so that, in cooperate with the the relevant institutions of BiH, it could be successfully completed and implemented, said in Sarajevo today the Assistant Secretary of State of the US for Issues of Population, Refugees and Migration Anne Richard.
Her speech on the topic ”Access to Humanitarian Aid in Conflict” were the UN in BiH and the Embassy of the US to BiH.
The Resident Coordinator of the UN to BiH Yuri Afanasiev wished Anne Richard a warm welcome to BiH.
He noted that the sustainable return of the remaining number of refugees and internally displaced peoples in BiH 17 years after the war continues to represent a huge challenge.
In her speech at the premises of the UN House, Richard reflected on the experience from Srebrenica and the war in BiH, including the importance of the promotion of the implementation of Annex 7.
”Tomorrow at the Memorial Center in Potočari we will pay tribute to the more than 8,000 victims in Srebrenica 18 years ago. This is a time to look forward to the future”, said Anne Richard.
She said that the US government continues to support the BiH government to fully implement Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
”This applies in particular to ensuring the rights of all citizens of BiH to return to their pre-war homes. Also, in addition to permanent housing for refugees and displaced persons, it is necessary to provide a higher level of security, the fight against discrimination and the reconstruction of infrastructure”, said Richard.
She assessed that the BiH authories have a lot of towk to do in order to meet the obligations from Annex 7, and added that the US encouraged a joint declaration on Annex 7, which was signed by the UN, EU, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and entity ministries for refugees and displaced people.
”People should have the chance to leave dangerous areas in order to be safe, and neighboring countries have to open their borders and receive refugees”, said the Assistant Secretary of State for Issues of Population, Refugees and Migration.
She said that the genocide in Srebrenica showed the world the challenges that come before humanitarian agencies and international peacekeeping missions when they are confronted with forces that plan to carry out genocide.
”We have to learn from the lessons of Srebrenica. The international community failed to provide protection to many people who were killed when they needed our support. After the genocide in Srebrenica numerous and difficult lessons were left, from which we have to draw lessons”, added Anne Richard.