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Swiss contribution to the Regional Housing Programme for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in the Western Balkans (RHP)

As a consequence of armed conflicts in the 1990’s, over 3 million people were displaced within and beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, and Serbia. Even today, up to half a million people remain displaced throughout the region. The Regional Housing Programme aims to provide durable housing solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in need.

Strategic Domain:
Strategic Partner:
Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH
The Council of Europe Development Bank
Project implemented in:
Republika Srpska, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Global and regional projects
Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Central Bosnia Canton, Una-Sana Canton, Zenica-Doboj Canton, Tuzla Canton
Municipalities (37):
Vukosavlje, Vlasenica, Trebinje, Teslić, Šipovo, Šamac, Stanari, Srebrenica, Prijedor, Pelagićevo, Novo Goražde, Novi Grad, Mostar, Modriča, Lopare, Laktaši, Kreševo, Kozarska Dubica, Kotor Varos, Kostajnica, Konjic, Ključ, Kakanj, Jablanica, Gradiška, Gradačac, Foča, Doboj, Derventa, Čelinac, Cazin, Brod, Bosanska Krupa, Bileća, Bijeljina, Berkovići, Banja Luka

Housing solutions for 74’000 persons

To resolve this protracted displacement situation, in 2011, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia agreed on a comprehensive regional programme, aimed at ensuring the return and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons. The regional initiative was supported by the international community, including the European Union, the United States of America, the UNHCR, OSCE, and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB).

Eintegration into place of origin, or integration into current place of residence

The Regional Housing Programme intends to provide durable and sustainable housing solutions to 74’000 individuals or 27’000 households. Starting in 2012, the Programme consists of four country housing projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. The estimated overall investment of the Programme should be up to 584 million Euros.

The refugees and internally displaced persons vary in current housing placements. Thousands of them still live in collective centres, others in formal or informal collective accommodations, as well as in private accommodations. The beneficiaries of the Programme choose whether they wish to return and reintegrate into their place of origin, or integrate into their place of cur- rent residence. For all of them improved and durable housing solutions will be found – either by building, reconstructing or even purchasing apartments and houses, or through provision of construction materials, and accommodation in social welfare institutions.

The regional housing programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina

It is expected that the Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina will provide durable and sustainable housing solutions to 5’400 households, which is 14’000 individuals. From this, 3’850 households will return to their places of origin, 1’270 will integrate in their place of current residence, while 280 households will be accommodated within the social welfare system.

Other than providing durable housing solutions, the Programme will have a positive effect on the self-reliance and income level of refugees and internally displaced persons. Furthermore, the Programme has a positive impact on the region as a whole. Through resolving the overdue displacement issue, the region will come a step closer to a peaceful and prosperous future. Even so, the initiative can become a model for the resolution of long lasting refugee and internal displacement crises worldwide.

20 years of Switzerland’s contribution to the displacement issue

Bosnia and Herzegovina was the first country of the region with which Switzerland has established a formal migration partnership, back in 2009. Furthermore, from 1996 to 2011, Switzerland has contributed an estimated 250 million CHF for the purpose of reintegration of refugees and displaced persons. The latest contribution of 5 million Euros was to the implementation of the Regional Housing Programme, which is to ultimately resolve the question of refugees and internally displaced persons in the Western Balkans.