Regional Office in South Eastern Europe
Operation: Regional Office in South Eastern Europe
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|2017 year-end results|
|29,360||people received legal assistance (Refugees, asylum-seekers and other persons of concern in South Eastern Europe (not from former Yugoslavia))|
|1,950||people received cash grants and 10,414 received other (non-cash) support (refugees, persons at risk of statelessness, returnees and IDPs from former Yugoslavia)|
|940||reported SGBV incidents for which survivors receive psychosocial counselling (Refugees, asylum-seekers and other persons of concern in South Eastern Europe (not from former Yugoslavia))|
|500||refugees and IDPs from former Yugoslavia received return packages|
|410||individuals with undetermined nationality were assisted to have their nationality confirmed, and 1,428 stateless persons were assisted to acquire nationality|
|160||people received production kits or inputs for agriculture, livestock, or fisheries activities (refugees, persons at risk of statelessness, returnees and IDPs from former Yugoslavia)|
|2017 planning figures|
|13,270||people of concern assisted with legal aid to realize their rights|
|11,703||of people at risk of statelessness assisted with documentation|
|2,700||people of concern will receive cash grants and some 10,000 people with specific needs will receive in-kind support|
|86%||of known SGBV survivors will receive appropriate support|
|60%||of households will live in adequate dwellings|
People of Concern
Regional Office in South Eastern Europe
Key achievementsUNHCR’s Regional Office in Sarajevo covers activities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Additional information on UNHCR’s response in South-Eastern Europe is presented in the sub-regional overview.
Throughout 2017, UNHCR and partners maintained protection/border monitoring and capacity building of different actors in the field of asylum and migration. As part of the Regional IPA II project, UNHCR, together with European Asylum support Office (EASO), European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), focused on building the capacity of governments to manage protection challenges in mixed movements and to ensure functional asylum and migration systems.
The Office worked to ensure access to registration, assistance and basic services, and provide information and legal aid. UNHCR also worked to improve reception conditions, especially for people with special needs, and to increase the capacity for hosting more refugees. More than 127,000 people were assisted with various health-care services and some 29,610 people received material and/or psychosocial support. In addition, more than 174,900 people were assisted with legal aid. UNHCR carried out individual interviews with new asylum-seekers for recognition, prevention, and reaction to SGBV and organized training sessions on SGBV prevention in some asylum centres in the region. The identified SGBV survivors were referred for further legal, protection and/or health assistance to relevant institutional mechanisms and their situation was monitored and treated accordingly in a coordinated manner. Moreover, UNHCR supported relevant authorities and other actors to strengthen referral and follow-up mechanisms.
With regard to the people displaced during the 1990s, in 2017 some 2,600 housing solutions were provided to refugees, returnees and IDPs within the Regional Housing Project (RHP), of which 60 per cent were in Serbia. Preparations were made for additional 3,500 solutions to be provided in 2018.
In Albania, UNHCR continued to support the Directorate for Asylum to facilitate access to territory and status determination procedures for people of concern. Close to 1,700 people were assisted with accommodation, legal aid, health and psychosocial assistance, as well as with Albanian language courses and other self-reliance related support. Furthermore, identification of persons at risk of statelessness through an in-depth multi-stakeholder mapping was conducted in Albania and 1,030 persons at risk of statelessness were identified.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNHCR continued to promote the engagement of authorities, and supported the use of data-driven, needs-based methodology to find durable solutions, including by fostering local integration, supporting voluntary return in safety and dignity, and finding alternative shelter for people in collective centres. 17 workshops were organized for authorities and Roma NGOs to strengthen their capacity and work towards the establishment of an effective mechanism for the identification, prevention, and reduction of risk of statelessness.
In Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)), UNHCR advocated for improved access to, and quality of status determination procedures, as well as for improvements in reception conditions. In 2017, UNHCR assisted 498 (279 Romani, Ashkali and Kosovo Egyptians) displaced to voluntarily return to Kosovo. Thanks to advocacy for land allocation for IDPs in Temporary Collective Centres (TCCs), three municipalities opened up for durable solutions and 17 TCCs, with 135 IDPs and 7 refugees, were closed.
In Montenegro, UNHCR continued to consolidate its strategy in seeking durable solutions for people of concern. A comprehensive field verification was carried out for all people with pending status issues. The preliminary results showed that 145 persons are at risk of statelessness. UNHCR supported self-reliance activities to assist people of concern in finding gainful employment. By the end of 2017 when the reception centres were saturated due to a small-scale influx of refugees, UNHCR advocated for the government to increase the centres’ capacity. Some 840 people used state-provided accommodation against an initial capacity of only 80 places. UNHCR bridged the main gaps, through the engagement of a multi-functional and multi-partner mobile team of case workers, legal advisors, psychologists and interpreters.
Refugees and migrants continued to arrive in Serbia and the number at year-end stood at some 4,300. UNHCR and its partners remained engaged providing protection services and assistance in coordination with relevant Government institutions and civil society. UNHCR advocated a comprehensive approach to finding durable solutions for IDPs from Kosovo, including voluntary repatriation and local integration. Livelihoods activities were expanded to support self-reliance and integration of refugees, approaching many non-traditional partners such as private sector, corporations and national institutions, resulting in increase in the number of formally employed refugees. On statelessness, UNHCR monitored the implementation of instructions developed through the ‘Baby, Welcome to the World’ project which regulates the procedure for birth registration in medical institutions.
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, UNHCR advocated access to asylum for people of concern, and for ending the detention of asylum-seekers. A total of 72 per cent of those detained in Macedonia were released from detention and processed through the asylum procedure. A protection monitoring system was established, with strengthened implementation of national SOPs on people with special needs. UNHCR reinforced its mobile teams who worked throughout the year providing both relief, medical and legal support to the refugees who were in transit. Activities in support of the refugees from former Yugoslavia focused on voluntary return to Kosovo (234 returns) and local integration, including support with citizenship and permanent residency (107 individuals) and strengthening self-reliance.
Unmet needsNational asylum systems need to be strengthened in all countries of South Eastern Europe. Improvement of reception conditions is required particularly vis-à-vis people with specific needs and vulnerable people of concern including victims of trafficking and torture, unaccompanied and separated children, SGBV survivors and elderly. There is also an urgent need to increase the capacity of public reception centres for refugees and migrants. Legal assistance, counselling on the RSD procedure, more regular border monitoring visits as well as further training of partners on SGBV prevention and response, are some of the activities that could be accomplished should additional funding be made available. Income generation opportunities also need to be supported in order promote the countries in the region more as a destination instead of just transit for people in need of international protection.
People displaced by conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s are still not able to access their rights and benefiting from durable solutions. The situation remains particularly complicated for Roma IDPs. For instance, close to 11,000 households (around 38,000 individuals) are awaiting for housing solution, out of only 2,600 housing that were provided in 2017 within the Regional Housing Project.
In 2016, support was provided to the authorities in selecting some 3,400 families respectively under the Regional Housing Programme (RHP). In 2017 this work will continue in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. The operational engagement of UNHCR in these programmes is planned to continue until the end of 2017.
In Albania, UNHCR will continue to support the Directorate for Asylum to facilitate access to territory and status determination procedures for people of concern. Border monitoring missions will be conducted regularly in light of the increase in the number of refugees and migrants in transit. UNHCR plans to further strengthen relations with the Government, including with respect to emergency preparedness.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNHCR will build on the work of the 2014-2016 EU-funded multi-stakeholder project on the “Revised strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the implementation of Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement” to extend the same structured teamwork approach to solutions to additional municipalities. The methodology developed under the project aims to ensure that displaced people have unhindered access to rights, social protection, self-reliance initiatives and housing. UNHCR is also supporting the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its implementation of the “Closing of Collective Centres and Alternative Accommodation through provision of public housing solutions” (CEB II) project to find durable housing solutions and facilitate the closure of some 120 collective centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In an effort to align the country’s national legal framework with the European Union acquis, a new law on foreigners was adopted and a new law on asylum was in the final stage prior to adoption as at the end of 2016.
UNHCR’s strategy in Montenegro focuses on facilitating local integration for refugees in the country. It is anticipated that solutions for remaining displaced populations can be achieved through the RHP if a positive dialogue with all the relevant actors on the remaining needs and priority groups can be sustained. Authorities in Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)) and Montenegro are working closely together to obtain missing civil status documents and are committed to the Joint UNHCR-OSCE Regional Initiative for Durable Solutions for Displaced Persons from Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)), known as the Skopje Process. UNHCR will continue to advocate with the authorities and with the European Union Delegation the need to adopt a comprehensive, strategic, government-led approach to regularize the status of people who have been displaced for many years.
In Serbia, UNHCR’s efforts have shifted from emergency response to ensuring protection, undertaking detention and border monitoring, and strengthening the asylum system. In addition, as part of the action plan for the closure of collective centres, packages of building materials, consisting of the basic construction items which meet legal and construction conditions/regulations, will be provided to some 130 displaced Roma families (approximately 650 individuals). UNHCR will also advocate durable solutions for IDPs including both voluntary return and local integration.
In Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)), UNHCR has sought to strengthen its support for those displaced within and from Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)). UNHCR is pursuing solutions for the remaining caseload more comprehensively, including in the context of the Skopje Process, through which countries affected by displacement from Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)) have adopted a set of joint principles and agreed priority actions in respect to achieving durable solutions by the displaced population. UNHCR will continue to provide assistance for the return or integration of the most vulnerable cases, for whom it is planned that solutions will be implemented by the end of 2017.
In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, UNHCR’s main focus has shifted emergency humanitarian assistance to protection monitoring and strengthening the asylum system. In parallel, the Office is focusing its efforts on finding solutions for the remaining refugees from Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)).