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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

UNHCR Fundraising Reports, 1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Facilitate repatriation, ensure care and maintenance and promote local integration for Bosnian refugees; promote institution-building activities by providing assistance to the Government of The former Republic of Macedonia to improve its ability to fulfil its responsibilities resulting from the ratification of international legal instruments on refugee protection; and provide assistance to nearly 5,000 vulnerable refugees from Kosovo until they can repatriate.

Who we help

Some 1,400 Bosnian refugees and up to 5,000 vulnerable refugees among new arrivals from Kosovo.

Our requirements

US$ 1,916,611

Our office


Our partners

Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Macedonian Red Cross(MRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Swiss Disaster Relief Organization (SDR), American Refugee Committee (ARC).


In 1992, at the beginning of the war in Bosnia, some 30,000 refugees arrived in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where they were granted temporary protection. UNHCR, at the request of the Macedonian Government, started a care and maintenance programme which met the basic needs of the refugees. As time passed, their numbers decreased as some left for other countries, some repatriated to Bosnia and others integrated locally. At the time of writing, UNHCR assists 1,400 refugees (200 in collective centres and 1,200 in host families). In 1999 UNHCR will repatriate the remaining refugees who want to go back to Bosnia and will launch local settlement activities for those who cannot repatriate and want to stay.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ratified the international refugee instruments but lacks the national legislation and infrastructure to assume its responsibilities. UNHCR is helping the Government design an asylum/refugee status determination system.

Given the dramatic events in Kosovo, UNHCR is preparing a contingency plan for an influx of 20,000 to 70,000 persons. The borders with Kosovo remain open and a bilateral treaty with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia establishes a no-visa regime that allows for a stay of two to three months. The Macedonia Government acknowledges the presence of so-called "guests" from Kosovo who entered the country legally. These "guests" are issued with a stay permit from one to three months. They are accommodated with host families. After three months of stay, their resources and those of the host family are depleted. Some persons have begun to ask for assistance. The Macedonian Government requested that UNHCR launch an assistance programme for those with special needs, including women, children and elderly persons.


The repatriation of refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina started in 1996 and, to date, some 1,614 refugees have repatriated. About 200 persons remain who would like to repatriate but they have no guaranteed accommodation upon arrival. UNHCR and the Bosnian Government are trying to solve this problem; but delays are inevitable and their departure will be postponed until 1999.

Protection and Solutions

UNHCR provides protection to the remaining refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina who are well accepted in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This assistance can include helping the refugees obtain necessary documents, such as birth certificates, non-payment of pensions certificates, wedding certificates, etc., so they are prepared for repatriation.

For those who want to stay in Macedonia and who request assistance, UNHCR submitted a list of names to the Ministry of Interior to obtain stay permits under the Aliens' Act. The Bosnian Consulate in Istanbul was contacted to issue passports and provide protection for their nationals while they are living in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Government has granted the Kosovars the status of 'Humanitarian Assisted Persons', equivalent to Temporary Protection status used elsewhere. This status will allow them to have their stay permits renewed without any difficulties and provides the legal structure under which they can be adequately protected.

UNHCR is helping the Government draft a refugee law, promoting country of origin information, cooperating with the national University in creating a Refugee Studies centre, and promoting the translation, into Macedonian, of important refugee laws.

Assistance to vulnerable groups

At the request of the Government, UNHCR started an assistance programme in September 1998 for groups with special needs, including including women, children and elderly persons among those newly arrived from Kosovo. This programme will continue in 1999.


UNHCR maintains excellent relations with the Macedonian authorities, especially with the Ministry of Labour in charge of refugee affairs. The agency also has regular discussions with embassies as well as with UNICEF, WHO, NGOs, ICRC, IFRC and other organizations. Because of their mandates, United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Monitoring Mission (ECMM) have a large field presence, especially along the border with Kosovo. UNHCR works closely with all three organizations.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support10,000
Shelter/Other Infrastructures80,60030,000
Legal Assistance/Protection70,00010,000
Programme Delivery Costs*395,30058,826
Administrative Support45,200
TOTAL GP + SP1,916,611

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.




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The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward JourneyPlay video

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A transit centre at Vinojug, on FYR Macedonia's border with Greece is where the refugees and migrants pass through on their journey further into Europe. Here UNHCR and partner organisations provide food, water, medical care, psycho-social support and information for refugees who take the train towards the border with Serbia. UNHCR also provides information on how to access the asylum system in the country. In recent weeks, an average of 6,300 refugees pass through the camp every day, yesterday that number grew to 10,000, a record.
FYR Macedonia: Volunteers At HandPlay video

FYR Macedonia: Volunteers At Hand

Almost 300,000 refugees and migrants have passed through the Gevgelija transit center in the former Yusgoslav Republic of Macedonia, on their way to the EU since it was setup less than two months ago.
Serbia: Overstretched BordersPlay video

Serbia: Overstretched Borders

As Hungary builds a fence on its border with Serbia, the situation at the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece is increasingly precarious. Refugees in Serbia on their way to Hungry fear the tighter measures and say they wouldn't have fled home had they not been forced to do it by the war.