Internally displaced persons in Serbia

Internally displaced persons in Serbia

Current Situation and Achievements to date

Officially there are 204,049 IDPs in Serbia. UNHCR estimates that approximately 89,000 of them are still vulnerable with displacement related needs and without a durable solution. Sixteen years after the conflict in Kosovo (S/RES/1244(1999)) their situation remains difficult and complex, as they still face obstacles in accessing durable solutions. The economic situation of Serbia, mainly affects the most vulnerable segments of its population, amongst whom refugees, IDPs and Roma minority. The most vulnerable internally displaced Roma remain marginalized, living in severe poverty, faced with discrimination and without access to durable solutions. UNHCR will continue advocating with the government for adopting a comprehensive Strategy and Action Plan for IDP durable solutions, with a two-fold approach, i.e. enabling return for those that wish to do so voluntarily and re-integration in displacement for those that do not wish to return. UNHCR will continue monitoring the protection concerns of IDPs throughout Serbia and especially the most vulnerable segment of the IDP population. 

Strategy

Protection and Solutions Strategy (comprehensive)

UNHCR will continue working with the government and other stakeholders in facilitating voluntary return, with a focus on enabling IDPs to make an informed choice on their durable solution through the organization of ”go and see” visits, return informative meetings and participation in municipal working group meetings of IDP representatives, and will participate in the discussions within the so-called Skopje Process and the inter-institutional initiative on durable solutions for displaced people from Kosovo (S/RES/1244(1999)).

As of 2015 UNHCR provided operational assistance to IDPs within the SEEDS Project and through the preparation of a Programmatic Document, which provides pathways and direction for action to all relevant stakeholders dealing with IDP durable solutions (government, civil society, international organizations and international donors). On the basis of The Programmatic Document, UNHCR will focus on operational activities in 3 to 5 Serbian municipalities with comprehensive solutions directed at (2 or 3 municipalities) for Roma IDPs and (1 or 2 municipalities) targeting the most vulnerable IDPs. The comprehensive solutions will encompass areas of shelter (village houses, shelter improvements, etc.), income generation, access to education, access to employment, capacity building directed at facilitating cooperation between the local communities and the IDP beneficiaries. These comprehensive solutions should represent a series of best practices on which the government should in the future base its durable solutions activities.

Together with the Ombudsman and Commissioner for Equality, UNHCR will continue building the capacity of local administrative organs in the area of UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, anti-discrimination and good governance, with the aim of preventing ethnic incidence and removing obstacles for the full integration of Roma IDPs.

UNHCR’s assumptions are the following:
1. The Government takes a proactive approach in IDP durable solutions;
2. The Government accepts the two-fold approach for IDP durable solution, i.e. voluntary return and local integration in displacement;
3. The Government incorporates the needs of IDPs identified in the IDP Needs Assessment, the internally displaced Roma’ needs assessment and the programmatic document into their policy documents and action plans.

Prioritized Results

Continued advocacy and assistance with all relevant stakeholders (government, civil society, international organizations and international donors) for implementation of the developed programmatic document on durable solutions for IDPs will be crucial for achieving durable solutions for IDPs in Serbia. Monitoring protection concerns and raising issues relevant for the protection of people of concern remains an important activity through meetings and advocacy groups. Assistance in facilitating returns and enabling IDPs to visit the place of origin is crucial in making an informed choice on durable solutions UNHCR will continue raising the capacity of the local administrative organs/receiving community which is crucial for local integration of vulnerable groups, especially internally displaced Roma, with special emphasis on UN guiding principle on internal displacement, the responsibility of authorities, anti-discrimination and good governance.

For IDPs still living in 9 CCs, approximately 53 In-kind assistance kits/cash portion for initial settling will be provided. As per a Programme Strategy for UNHCR and the plans for responsible phase out in 2017, UNHCR Serbia will pilot a new project for Roma IDPs. The project will be a package of integrated support to selected Roma settlements in Serbia, consisting of legal assistance, shelter and livelihood activities. Approximately 30 internally displaced Roma families (150 individuals) will be provided with village houses. The project builds on the assumption that the vulnerability of Roma IDPs is such that one type of assistance alone is not enough to provide sustainable durable solutions. Packages of building material will be provided for 130 internally displaced Roma families (650 individuals), living in houses without adequate conditions. According to UNHCR’s Global Strategic Priority criteria on shelter, the situation in Serbia with regard to the percentage of the households living in adequate dwellings has been described as critical being considerably below 70 per cent.

Self-reliance activities are also prioritized, since unemployment among IDPs in need is 39 per cent (16.7 per cent among the general population – end 2015). Also, the majority of the IDP households in need (74.3 per cent) survive on an income less than EUR200 per month. Self-reliance/livelihood includes provision of Agricultural Inputs, In-kind grants and Vocational Trainings. Some 335 IDPs living in private accommodation will be provided with agricultural inputs, 300 with entrepreneurship/business training and livelihoods sets, while 200 IDPs will be provided with Vocational Training (100 per cent of students will graduate). It is estimated that 85 per cent of trainees will be self-employed afterwards. One peaceful-coexistence project (HMI), involving local and displaced communities, will be implemented - 28 local elderly will be merged with 14 IDP families.

More efficient social protection of IDPs through outreach services will be maintained so that the most vulnerable people of concern to UNHCR living in remote private and inadequate accommodation and CCs are reached with these services. Support to the local community  and centres for social welfare in addressing problems of the most vulnerable IDPs as well as lobbying and advocacy to strengthen its services for vulnerable IDPs to enable them to access the social protection mechanisms as well as to be included in available projects for local integration.

Support internally displaced Roma living in Roma settlements, in collective centres or in poor and underdeveloped municipalities with a high concentration of Roma IDPs to be socially included in their societies and to enable the Roma IDP children to access their rights in the field of educational and social inclusion.

Provide the most vulnerable IDPs living in extreme poverty, remote and rural areas or in CCs to cover their urgent medical needs, in most cases lifesaving interventions.  

Results

Activities by UNHCR and partners targeted local communities hosting IDPs, Centres for Social Welfare (CSW) and medical institutions, strengthening the services for the most vulnerable IDPs residing both in Collective Centres (CC) and private accommodation. A network of mobile teams coordinated activities with other stakeholders and advocated at both national and local levels to enhance accessibility, quality and efficiency of local public health/social protection services for vulnerable IDPs. Identification of IDPs in need of specialised care, referrals to the CSWs and monitoring of services was achieved. Through a series of seminars, representatives of Social Welfare Centres were informed on UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and national anti-discrimination legislation. They were also sensitized to the obstacles Roma IDPs are facing in accessing their rights in displacement. UNHCR and partners provided free legal aid to 150 IDPs, organised 15 go-and-see visits for 198 IDPs, 9 return informative meetings, and 3 transport movements benefitting 8 IDPs. Through its partners, UNHCR assisted Roma IDP children’s inclusion in educational, recreational and social integration programmes, worked with local communities to combat discrimination and assist parents in keeping their children in school. Most vulnerable IDP were provided with essential medicines, psychosocial support and/or were referred to public services, while 519 received one-time cash assistance. UNHCR supported comprehensive solutions for Roma IDPs in settlements in six municipalities: 63 families (271 individuals) moved from “Grmec” settlement in Belgrade and settlements/CCs in Bujanovac, Kragujevac, Bela Palanka and Kruševac to village houses, mainly in the Vojvodina province. 76 Roma families received building material and improved sanitation facilities. 98 families (452 individuals) received livelihood sets, while 94 families received income generation sets. Implementing projects that benefit both hosting and displaced populations enhanced attitudes of local communities, social cohesion and sustainable solutions.

Unmet Needs

The needs of IDPs remain significant, while the needs of Roma IDPs are enormous. Roma IDPs remain faced with numerous obstacles and often fail to achieve-benefit from solutions. Full funding would provide such solutions to an increased number of vulnerable Roma IDPs.

Key Performance Targets

Indicator Target Result (End Year)
# of PoC provided with entrepreneurship / business training 300 98
% of vocational training students who graduate (successful completion and receipt of certification) 100 100
# of PoC receiving production kits or inputs for agriculture/livestock/fisheries activities 1,000 94
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