• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR, EC and OSCE urge full implementation of Sarajevo Declaration

News Stories, 19 September 2006

© UNHCR/R.Chalasan
Refugees from wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.

ZAGREB, Croatia, September 19 (UNHCR) UNHCR on Tuesday joined the European Commission (EC) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in calling on governments in the Balkans to speedily implement a pact signed last year on refugee returns.

Following a meeting in Zagreb, the three organisations issued a statement saying that Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia had made some progress in implementing the Sarajevo Declaration, under which the four countries agreed to resolve the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) by the end of this year.

But they added that much work remained to be done to achieve genuine closure of the refugee returns issue by the deadline agreed at in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in January last year.

Representatives of UNHCR, the EC and the OSCE urged the four countries to honour their commitments and get the process moving much faster. They added that failure to seriously address the problem of displacement would send a negative message to the remaining refugees and IDPs.

Under the Sarajevo Declaration, the four governments should have finalised a comprehensive road map for returns and contributed to a joint implementation matrix by the end of the year. These documents should detail implementation mechanisms and spell out financial commitments.

More than half a million people almost 120,000 refugees and some 407,000 IDPs remain uprooted in the region. They fled their homes to escape fighting in the Balkans in the 1990s.

UNHCR was designated the lead humanitarian agency in the emergency that followed the 1991 break-up of Yugoslavia and subsequent wars between former member states. The Dayton Peace Accords in 1995 gave UNHCR the pivotal role in helping some 2.2 million uprooted people return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

The Sarajevo Declaration was the first refugee-related initiative adopted by the governments of the region. They agreed to try and end the outstanding humanitarian challenges by allowing voluntary returns or local integration.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

EU Asylum Law and Policy

EU law and practice affects creation of refugee protection mechanisms in other countries.

Advocacy

Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

Non-Governmental Organizations

A priority for us is to strengthen partnerships with non-governmental organizations.

Governments as Partners

UNHCR works with host governments to protect and assist refugees and to find solutions.

Partnership: An Operations Management Handbook for UNHCR's Partners (Revised Edition)

A practical guide for those working with UNHCR in protecting and assisting refugees.

UNHCR's Recommendations to Poland for its EU Presidency

July-December 2011. Also available in Spanish on Refworld.

Statistics

Trends on asylum and protection in EU Member States.

EU Instruments

UNHCR's regularly comments on key EU Regulations and Directives relating to asylum.

UNHCR Projects

UNHCR has numerous projects with EU Member States to improve the quality of asylum.

Judicial Engagement

UNHCR expertise helps courts interpret legislation in accordance with international asylum law.

Resettlement

The significance of resettlement as a durable solution is increasing in the EU.

Integration (refugee rights) and Family Reunification

Integration is a two-way process requiring efforts by the host societies as well as the refugees.

Border Cooperation

UNHCR is lobbying for protection-sensitive border management.

Asylum Practice

UNHCR is monitoring asylum practice and whether it is consistent with the 1951 Convention.

Practical cooperation

UNHCR is promoting and supporting cooperation with EU Member States and EASO.

Working with the European Union

EU law and practice affects creation of refugee protection mechanisms in other countries.

Groups of Concern

UNHCR expects Member States to pay particular attention to asylum seekers and refugees with specific needs.

Statelessness in Europe

UNHCR engages with EU Member States to identify and resolve the problems of stateless persons.

UNHCR Central Mediterranean Sea Initiative (CMSI)

EU solidarity for rescue-at-sea and protection of Asylum Seekers and Migrants.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Serbia: Europe's forgotten refugees

A study of the lives of three Europeans who have been living as refugees in Serbia for more than 15 years.

Serbia is the only European country with a protracted refugee population. More than 90,000 refugees from Croatia and from Bosnia and Herzegovina remain there, victims of wars that erupted after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

These long-term refugees live under appalling conditions in dingy apartments and overcrowded collective centres – the nearest thing to refugee camps in modern Europe.

This set of pictures tells the story of three displaced people, the problems they face and their hopes for the future.

Serbia: Europe's forgotten refugees

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie met with forcibly displaced people on April 5, 2010 during her first visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The actress, accompanied by her partner Brad Pitt, called for steps to end the continued suffering of these victims of the Bosnian War after hearing their harrowing tales and seeing their grim living conditions.

Jolie was clearly moved by the spirit - and the ordeal - of the people she met and she pledged to highlight their case. Most of the people she talked to have been living in exile since the end of the 1992-1995 conflict. Jolie visited collective centres in the towns of Gorazde and Rogatica, where the inhabitants lack basic services such as running water.

The actress spent some time with a group of women who were raped or tortured during the war. Their tales left a deep impression on her. She also met a family of refugee returnees who were still waiting to move into their village home near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad.

Angelina Jolie in Bosnia

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Iraq: Moving to a New Camp in KhankePlay video

Iraq: Moving to a New Camp in Khanke

A new camp for displaced people is taking shape in the village of Khanke in Iraq's Kurdistan region, with the help of UNHCR and its partners. After weeks of uncomfortable living in the courtyard of an old public building, Chenar and her ethnic Yazidi family are looking forward to moving to the new facility.
Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African RefugeesPlay video

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African Refugees

The UN refugee agency and its partners appealed for more donor support to cope with the continuing outflow and deteriorating condition of refugees from the Central African Republic.
Lebanon: A Tradition Yields New OpportunitiesPlay video

Lebanon: A Tradition Yields New Opportunities

UNHCR and partners are training scores of Syrian and Lebanese women in traditional fabric printing – helping to sustain centuries-old techniques and provide livelihoods for refugees and host communities.