Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
September 4, 2002
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) has developed a Balkans strategy in FY 2002 that reflects the evolving humanitarian situation. The region is generally stable now 6 years after the Dayton Accords ended the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina and almost 3 years after the NATO intervention in Kosovo led to the return of over one million Kosovar Albanians to their homes. Recent political events -- peaceful elections in Kosovo, the peace agreement in Macedonia, renewed commitment to refugee returns by the moderate government in Croatia, and continued stability in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- continue to offer opportunities to find durable solutions for the thousands of persons who remain displaced by a decade of conflict in the former Yugoslavia. In short, we are witnessing success in our refugee and humanitarian programs in the Balkans as thousands of refugees and IDPs continue to return to Bosnia, Macedonia, or Kosovo. Other refugees and IDPs are finding alternative durable solutions, most notably, local integration.
PRM’s policy engagement in the Balkans will continue, given that assistance and protection of refugees and conflict victims there remains a key aspect of U.S. foreign policy. However, owing to progress in the region as well as more limited funding, we plan to continue to phase-down PRM financial support to the Balkans. PRM has refocused and prioritized its limited assistance and hopes to continue to coordinate closely with other donors across the region to advance refugee/IDP assistance goals in the Balkans despite a decrease in overall funding.
In FY 2001, PRM provided significant funding for programs that directly supported the returns of ethnic minority refugees and displaced persons throughout the region -- more than $92 million, with $60 million supporting international organizations and $32 million supporting NGO activities. These NGO projects will continue well into FY 2002.
In FY 2002, PRM plans to focus its resources on promoting continued refugee/IDP returns as well as creating conditions that will sustain minority returns once PRM funding is no longer available. More than $46 million has been allocated to the Balkans for FY 2002, $30 million for support of international organizations and $16.2 million for NGO activities. Detailed descriptions of 2002 PRM-funded NGO projects are attached.
PRM has contributed $22 million to support 25% of UNHCR’s 2002 Southeast Europe appeal and approximately $7 million to support ICRC’s 2002 regional appeal.
NGO Projects -- Regional
Serbia and Montenegro remain home to more than 650,000 people displaced by the conflicts of the 1990s. PRM will continue to provide information and documentation/legal assistance to those refugees who intend to return to Bosnia and Croatia and those IDPs who intend to return to Kosovo. In cooperation with UNHCR, significant work will be done with the Yugoslav, Serbian, and Montenegrin governments to identify durable solutions for those refugees unable or unwilling to return home, but the onus will rest with the Government and development partners.
International Rescue Committee
IRC will facilitate minority returns and foster the sustainable integration of returnees and refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The project offers beneficiaries a regionally coordinated package of assistance including information and logistics support, integration inputs, and shelter assistance.
The International Catholic Migration Commission
ICMC will facilitate the sustainable return of refugees to their places of origin in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and displaced persons to Kosovo through a comprehensive, individualized casework approach. ICMC will also address the needs of the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs with small assistance packages.
The project will enable local NGOs in Serbia to conduct vocational training and provide humanitarian assistance.
NGO Projects -- Bosnia
IDP and refugee returns continue at a high rate. Over 90,000 minorities returned in 2001, and UNHCR predicts at least that many will also return in 2002. PRM will prioritize and refocus its assistance to support minority urban returns and selected rural "breakthrough" returns areas with housing assistance and small-scale economic sustainability inputs. USAID will continue to implement larger-scale infrastructure and economic programs.
In concert with continued housing assistance, we will continue to support the Property Law Implementation Process (PLIP), an effort to evict illegal occupants and reclaim homes for returning refugees and IDPs. Assistance targeted to returnees that enables secondary and tertiary returns as opposed to those returns involving only one family will take priority in FY 2002.
NGO funding will allow critical housing rehabilitation projects and minor economic sustainability inputs to be continued throughout the 2002 returns season and is expected to be sufficient to solidify returns momentum beyond FY 2002. Eastern Republika Srpska remains a fragile but important return area and will be specifically targeted for assistance.
UMCOR will link PRM-funded shelter repair programs to its complementary USDA and USAID economic, micro-credit and infrastructure projects to ensure sustainable minority return. UMCOR will focus on urban returns to the Sarajevo and Mostar areas among others, and will have a significant Eastern RS component. A portion of their funding will be set aside in a "flex fund" to respond to, and sustain, spontaneous minority returns.
Mercy Corps will focus on shelter repair/reconstruction and other assistance on the Eastern RS, an identified PRM priority and an area where Mercy Corps already has a strong presence.
In Bosnia, IOCC will continue to utilize PRM shelter reconstruction/repair funding to sustain minority returns, particularly in Cantons 1 and 10.
ICMC -- Bosnia/Croatia
This program will provide individualized assistance and income generation packages through a network of caseworkers.
NGO Projects -- Croatia
The return environment in Croatia remains difficult. In 2002, we will continue to urge the Government to honor its promises to welcome the return of Croatian Serbs and to grant them equal access to all rights and benefits their citizenship entitles them to -- particularly in the area of property rights and reconstruction assistance. In the course of 2001, USAID, under its new Economic and Community Revitalization Activity (ECRA) program, began to assume many of the reintegration activities previously funded by PRM. Although selected communities will soon benefit from the wide range of USAID-funded programs, a gap still exists for basic humanitarian needs of minority returnees immediately following their return. Therefore, PRM will continue to provide basic humanitarian assistance to returnee families through NGO partners in FY 2002, particularly in former UN Sectors North and South and West.
ARC will provide basic sustainability inputs to returnees, and initial services such as well cleaning and minor shelter repair.
CRS will continue to provide cross-border repatriation assistance, household security assistance and economic inputs to help sustain minority returnees in Croatia.
NGO Projects -- Kosovo
Minority Returns to Kosovo is PRM’s priority in the Balkans region. Given the results of the assembly elections, recent statements by Kosovo Albanian leaders and a relatively stable security situation, we expect 2002-2003 to be the breakthrough year for returns. While we do not advocate quotas and timetables for these returns, we have encouraged UNMIK and UNHCR to develop an action plan for returns, which specifies locations and sectors for donor involvement in order to rationalize and expedite possible returns.
PRM funded programs will return Kosovar IDPs from Serbia and Montenegro to Kosovo through the provision of assistance information dissemination, documentation assistance, minor shelter repair, small-scale agricultural and other economic inputs at the destination. To lay the groundwork for returns, the programs will also support the most vulnerable ethnic minority populations within Kosovo (e.g. Serbs and Roma) and build tolerance between Albanians and minorities.
In Kosovo, PRM will support UNHCR’s protection activities and the work of UNMIK’s Office of Return and Communities. We will continue funding NGO partners working to stabilize minority communities in Kosovo, particularly those with real potential to achieve minority returnees in FY 2002. PRM assistance in Kosovo through NGO partners will increase, rather than decrease as in all other Balkan countries, to support the new environment for returns and success of PRM-funded minority stabilization projects.
ICMC will facilitate the sustainable return of displaced persons to Kosovo through a comprehensive, individualized casework approach. ICMC seeks to provide basic assistance to make war damaged homes habitable and stabilize communities through dialogue facilitation. They will assist low-income refugees and their ethnic Albanian neighbors to establish a means of self-reliance through income-generating micro-enterprises that will further stabilize their communities.
ARC will prepare returnees to depart Serbia/Montenegro en route to Kosovo. ARC has been highly successful in implementing the first PRM-funded returns projects in Kosovo. They will continue to work closely with UNMIK and UNHCR to identify potential returns location and returnees. ARC will provide information, legal assistance, logistical support, minor shelter repair and community services. They will link returnees with income generation programs.
UMCOR will facilitate the dissemination of information on Kosovo communities to and conduct Go and See visits for internally displaced persons considering return. The Kosovo unit will assist returnees such as minor shelter rehabilitation, economic inputs, social services and education. UMCOR has a comparative advantage over other NGOs having worked in both Serbia and Kosovo to promote stability and return. This program shifts from last year’s stabilization program to emphasize Kosovo returns.
Mercy Corps will provide strategic assistance through improved information flows, and economic reintegration and revitalization to returning internally displaced persons and surrounding communities. The program is designed to enable refugees to reintegrate successfully into their communities and meet their basic subsistence needs through meaningful employment and increased agricultural output.
NGO Projects -- Macedonia
The crisis has subsided and most refugees and IDPs have returned. Limited additional funding will be provided to support vulnerable and provide assistance for the return of minority refugees.
Mercy Corps aims to ensure sustainable returns by simulating economic recovery and strengthening refugees’ economic and social reintegration. It will build on the success of the PRM-funded return and stabilization program funded in FY 2001. MC will work directly with vulnerable returned and returning refugees to increase their income generating opportunities, increase their access to services/training and foster inter-ethnic dialogue. These efforts are vital to maintaining stability in conflict prone areas.
IRC will provide reintegration assistance for returnees by providing access to healthcare, other social services and referrals to other agencies providing assistance.