Regional Housing Program – About 36,000 refugees and displaced persons get safe homes

Within the framework of the Regional Housing Program (RHP), more than 11,300 beneficiary families or almost 36,000 people in four partner countries got safe homes, thus ending their long-term displacement, it was pointed out today in Sarajevo at the final conference within the framework of the realization of that program.

The conference gathered representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, and Serbia, countries that joined efforts in the implementation of the program, the goal of which is to contribute to the solution of population displacement from the 1990s in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

The implementation of the program was supported by the wider international community with a total of 294 million euros. The European Union is the largest donor with around 238 million euros in grants, while bilateral donors provided 56 million euros.

Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of BiH Sevlid Hurtić, on behalf of the partner countries, expressed his gratitude to the donors who helped implement this important project in the region, which enabled many families to settle in their homes. He added that he hopes that the housing problem of the four thousand families who are currently in the collective center will be solved through the loan funds requested by Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Andrea Studer, Assistant Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), said that this is an important project for the region in which great commitment and cooperation of different countries was demonstrated.

”We still have work ahead of us and it is important to stay dedicated and work closely together to finish what is not finished yet. In addition, I want to emphasize how important it is to protect people and respect human rights, as well as the integration of refugees and returnees into society, to give them a perspective and enable a better future,” Studer said at the press conference.

The implementation of the project was monitored by the Development Bank of the Council of Europe (CEB), whose vice-governor Tomaš Boček said that they were proud to be part of this regional housing program.

Thanks to the dedication and efforts of all RHP partners, he added, that program had made a lasting difference in the lives of those who needed it most by providing safe homes for approximately 36,000 people. RHP was an instrument that helped them regain their dignity and optimism for the future.

This project, as the Head of the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina Brian Aggeler said, shows that despite the challenges, progress can be made by solving the problem of the displacement situation that arose after the conflict in the nineties.

”We provided the necessary help to families who lived in difficult conditions. The regional housing program has never lost sight of its initial goal, which is to help the most vulnerable refugees and displaced persons in the region to solve their housing problem,” said Aggeler.

In doing so, he added, they advocated ensuring the sustainability of return and the local integration of returnees. This includes enabling access to social protection, health care, education, and employment.

”The OSCE Mission in BiH is committed to continuing to help the responsible authorities to ensure that returnees and displaced persons have access to social and economic rights as stated in the Dayton Peace Agreement, as well as to create a brighter future for all citizens of this country,” added Aggeler.

Anne-Marie Deutschlander said on behalf of UNHCR, that RHP proved that obstacles can be overcome where there is political political commitment and determination.