Some 460 refugee families from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia will soon be able to improve their living conditions thanks to housing projects launched as part of the Western Balkans Regional Housing Programme. The first four projects under the Programme were approved recently. These amount to a total value of EUR 8.7 million, out of which EUR 7.1 million will be financed by the RHP Fund. The housing solutions available include construction of apartment buildings, pre-fabricated houses and provision of building materials for the renovation of existing houses.
This flagship initiative of the Sarajevo process demonstrates the renewed commitment from the four countries to put an end to the protracted refugee situation from the 1991-1995 conflicts in the region. In total, some 74,000 vulnerable persons will benefit as agreed last year at the International Donors' Conference in Sarajevo. The programme, to be implemented directly by the four partner countries, brings together donors and international stakeholders, including the European Union, Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), UNHCR, OSCE and the United States.
"The Regional Housing Programme is a good example how we can deal in a sustainable way with difficult issues related to refugees and displacement. I am very pleased the construction and rehabilitation of the first houses will now start and that the first families will soon be able to move into their new and better homes", said European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle. […]
The European Commission will pledge €100 million of humanitarian funding at the International Pledging Conference for Syria convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and hosted by Kuwait on 30 January. This funding, to be disbursed in 2013, will add to the €100 million already contracted for the crisis in 2011/2012, bringing the Commission's humanitarian funding for the crisis to €200 million. In view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation and the growing needs both within Syria and in the neighbouring countries, these vital funds will provide assistance to some of the 4 million people in need of aid in Syria, including two million displaced, as well as to 700,000 refugees to date.
Prior to her departure for the Conference, Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, said: "This additional €100 million is desperately needed. People inside Syria are cold, hungry and scared. Those who have managed to cross the borders often arrive with no more than the clothes on their backs. Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq must be praised for their generosity towards refugees fleeing Syria, but the flow is ever-increasing and these countries need more support". […]
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia have renewed their commitment, in Sarajevo today, to finding durable solutions for refugees and displaced persons of the 1991-1995 conflict in the region. On this occasion, the international donor community has pledged 261 million in support of the Regional Housing Programme at the International Donors Conference on Durable Solutions for Refugees and Displaced Persons.
The joint Regional Housing Programme aims at ensuring voluntary return and reintegration, or local integration of refugees and displaced persons. It will provide durable and sustainable housing solutions to some 74,000 individuals. The programme demonstrates the countries' renewed commitment to regional cooperation, which yields concrete and positive results for the people in the region. Regional cooperation is a key element of EU's stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans, and refugee return is one of the pillars in this cooperation. The new impetus for regional cooperation is a clear step forward in the EU integration process of the four countries. […]