Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
July 17, 2003
FY 2003 Balkans Fact Sheet
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) will continue to seek durable solutions for the displaced people of the Balkans in 2003. As opportunities for return in the region continue to improve, we will focus our resources on the greatest remaining challenge: the return of minority refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Kosovo. We believe that PRM’s leadership on minority returns to Kosovo will, as in Bosnia, be a catalyst for increased returns, improved security for returnees, and greater international donor support.
In 2002, more than 100,000 displaced people returned to their homes in Bosnia, bringing the total number of minority returnees there to near 400,000. The political and economic situation in Serbia and Montenegro continued to stabilize, and some Serbs and other minorities began returning to their homes in Kosovo. Croatia saw continued refugee returns, albeit at a low level due to ongoing procedural and bureaucratic obstacles. Elections in Macedonia ushered in a new and moderate government that appears committed to peace. The region as a whole has continued to stabilize, opening up new possibilities for return and local integration.
As the situation in the region continues to improve, international involvement is declining. International assistance levels are decreasing, and international institutions are scaling down or moving out. The UN mission in Bosnia shut down in 2002; numerous NGOs are closing out projects; UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) plans to phase out operations in Bosnia and Croatia in the coming 18 months. In this context, the related issues of project sustainability and handover to local authorities have become very important.
PRM’s total Balkans funding in 2003 will be $34.4 million, a quarter less than last year’s $46 million. UNHCR and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will receive $22.4 million, and $12 million will go to NGOs and other IOs. The funding for UNHCR and ICRC will be spread throughout the region on the basis of those organizations’ regional appeals. NGO/Other IO funding will be focused on minority returns to Kosovo, as we feel that it will have the greatest impact there. Our NGO funding for returns to Kosovo will be more than double last year’s amount, despite the overall decrease in regional NGO funding. There will be no NGO funding for Bosnia or Croatia in 2003.
UNHCR and ICRC -- $22,400,000
PRM will contribute about $18 million to support UNHCR’s 2003 Southeast Europe appeal and hopes to contribute about $4.4 million to support ICRC’s 2002 regional appeal. These contributions will enable UNHCR and ICRC to undertake activities including protection of vulnerable individuals; assistance to IDPs, refugees, and returnees; and facilitation of returns.
UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Office of Returns and Communities (ORC) -- $500,000
The ORC Sustainable Return Facility project will seek to coordinate returns work in Kosovo and fill important gaps. The ORC is the international community’s key coordinator on returns issues in Kosovo; this contribution will complement the work of our NGO partners by expanding the ORC’s capacity to coordinate and complement their work.
American Refugee Committee -- Sending Project (Serbia) -- $1,250,000
This project will facilitate the sustainable return and reintegration of IDPs to Kosovo. As the “sending “ component of ARC’s regional return initiative, this project will inform IDPs of their options and identify potential returnees. It will provide various services to these potential returnees, including legal advice, go-and-see/go-and-inform visits, and other returns-related assistance. Identified returnees will be referred to ARC’s “receiving” program in Kosovo. Both of ARC’s projects will make us of the ARC Returns Operations Center in Kosovo (R.O.C.K.) for coordination and oversight.
American Refugee Committee -- Receiving Project (Kosovo) -- $2,250,000
This project will facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes in Kosovo, and enhance minority community stabilization in order to ensure that the returns are sustainable. It will do this by providing returns assistance -- including legal aid, shelter rehabilitation, economic inputs, and income generation -- and through activities to promote peaceful inter-ethnic coexistence in returnee communities.
International Catholic Migration Committee -- Sending Project (Serbia) -- $2,500,000
ICMC will facilitate the sustainable return of IDPs to their homes in Kosovo through a comprehensive casework approach. Project components include information provision and dissemination to potential returnees, identification of potential returnees, provision of legal and other assistance, referral to ICMC’s and other NGOs’ Kosovo-side returns assistance program, and capacity building for grassroots IDP associations.
International Catholic Migration Commission -- Receiving Project (Kosovo) -- 2,000,000
This project will seek to sustain minority returns to Kosovo and promote the stabilization of minority communities in Kosovo. It will do this by helping low-income returnees and ethnic minorities to restart their economic livelihoods, providing small-scale shelter and winterization assistance, giving micro-enterprise grants to returnee communities, and facilitating inter-ethnic cooperation.
Mercy Corps International -- Reintegration Assistance to Returnees (Kosovo) -- 1,300,000
This project will complement the returns assistance of other PRM implementing partners by providing agricultural inputs and assistance to returnees. This will aid in the reintegration of returnees into their communities by providing meaningful employment and economic opportunities.
United Methodist Committee on Relief -- Sending/Receiving -- 1,600,000
UMCOR will use an innovative public information strategy involving a series of television documentaries, web-based returns information, and village profiles, to inform IDPs in Serbia and Montenegro of their options for return to Kosovo. This project will also facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes in Kosovo through a case-management model with individualized returns assistance packages. UMCOR will work with established sub-grantees to implement go-and-see visits and some other cross-boundary tasks.
Ambassador’s Fund -- $100,000
The Ambassador’s Fund makes available $20,000 for refugee-related projects for each of the five embassies or offices in the region -- Belgrade, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Zagreb. The Ambassadors can access this money to support small-scale gap-filling projects that would otherwise not be funded.