New EU‐UNHCR project brings solutions to problems of displacement

Ambassador Peter Sorensen, BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Damir Ljubić and Representative of UNHCR in BiH Andrew Mayne presented on 28 April a new 8.1 mill Euro project funded by the EU and co‐funded by UNHCR, designed to address the most severe of the remaining problems of wartime displacement.

The project will assist at least 2,400 needy displaced and returnee families including women victims of war, in their efforts to achieve solutions to social challenges – initially in ten municipalities between 2014 and 2016 – through close co-operation with the authorities, civil society, local communities and other project stakeholders.

With its ‘My place under the sun’, this project aims to help vulnerable displaced and returnee families achieve conditions for a life in safety, dignity and respect, by including them in municipality development plans, so that they can develop and prosper.

Project Partners and authorities will join forces to assess needs, then to strengthen social protection and inclusion, health care for the elderly, education for children, livelihoods support, marketing of produce, free legal aid, psycho‐social counselling, and housing. The project further aims to strengthen national coordination efforts overall.

The EU is contributing 7 mills Euro, with UNHCR co‐financing of 1.1 mills Euro. UNHCR leads the implementation, in partnership with UNDP, UNICEF, IOM, Hilfswerk Austria International, Bosnian Humanitarian Logistics Service, Foundation of Local Democracy and Vasa Prava BiH, and in co-operation with all levels of government.

Ambassador Peter Sorensen said that: “Ensuring a better future for refugees and internally displaced persons in BiH is a major priority for the EU. Around 500 mill Euro of EU funds have been used since 1996 to rehabilitate properties, basic utilities and social infrastructure as well as livelihood measures and creation of employment. Some 30,000 properties were rebuilt and around 4,500 jobs were created through these funds. People who are targeted in these programmes have been away from their homes for more than 20 years now, and it is our common responsibility to finally enable them to receive a long‐term housing and ‘life’ solution”.

UNHCR Representative in BiH, Andrew Mayne, stressed that “thanks to EU IPA funding, this programme can aim for truly lasting solutions ‐ helping to build the necessary partnerships and coordination structures for displaced and returnee families to be not only assisted, but to be properly included in future in the mainstream development plans of local and national authorities.”

The Municipalities who will initially be invited to participate in the project will include Bijeljina, Bosanski Petrovac, Derventa, Foča, Gradiška, Maglaj, Mostar, Prijedor and Živinice, as well as Brčko District. The project will also support the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement Annex VII Revised Strategy as a whole, by introducing new problem‐solving coordination structures at both local and country levels.

The project complements the Regional Housing Programme and the CEB II Project for residents of collective centres, which are the other major components of the Annex VII solutions strategy for remaining wartime displacement.