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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Bosnia and Herzegovina


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Bosnia and Herzegovina

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Ensure conditions are conducive for return, promote sustainable reintegration of returnees and displaced persons, and support minority return movements through multi-sectoral assistance to areas open to minority return.

Who we help

In 1999, some 995,000 persons including: 85,000 returnees from countries of the former Yugoslavia and 50,000 from Western Europe, 50,000 refugees (40,000 ethnic Serbs from Croatia and 10,000 refugees from Kosovo) and 860,000 internally displaced persons and vulnerable groups, such as those in collective centres, isolated elderly and severely war-affected populations including many female heads-of-households.

Our requirements

US$ 64,966,026

Our offices

Sarajevo, Bihac, Gorazde, Zenica, Mostar, Trebinje, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Doboj, Drvar, Sanski Most, Travnik, Brcko, Konjic, Livno, Pale, Prijedor, Zvornik, Orasje.

Our partners

Ministry for Civil Affairs and Communication (MCAC), Federation Ministry for Social Affairs, Displaced Persons and Refugees (FMSA), Ministry for Refugees and Displaced Persons of Republika Srpska (MFR), Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Agency for Refugee Assistance (ARA), American Refugee Committee (ARC), Bosnian Humanitarian Logistic Services (BHLS), BOSPO, Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Center for Affirmation of Human Rights and Liberties (CARL), Center for Social Care of the Elderly West Mostar (CSCW), Center for Social Care of the Elderly East Mostar (CSCE), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Delphi International, Helsinki Citizens' Assembly (HCA), Impact Teams International (ITI), Independent Bureau for Humanitarian Issues (IBHI), International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), International Rescue Committee (IRC), IUSTITIA, Japan Emergency NGOs (JEN), Local Initiative Department Federation (LID/F), Local Initiative Department Republika Srpska (LID/RS), Malteser Hilfsdienst (MHD), Mercy Corps/Scottish European Aid (MC/SEA), Movimiento por la Paz, el Desarme y la Libertad (MPDL), National Support Unit (NSU), New Bosnia Fund (NBF), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Patrija, Plavi Most (PM), Project Implementation Unit (PIU), Ruhama, Sumejja, Tango, UNDP/BH Mine Action Center (UNDP/BH MAC), United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), World Vision Bosnia (WVB).


Implementation of the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (also known as the Dayton Peace Agreement), is fraught with difficulties. The transition from war to peace is proving to be protracted, complex and delicate. But the security umbrella provided by the Stabilization Force (SFOR) and the International Police Task Force (IPTF) is effective; freedom of movement and inter-entity cooperation have improved markedly. Minority returns within and to Bosnia and Herzegovina are expected to continue, although concerted efforts by all actors in the international community are required to negotiate these returns. Adequate assistance, in the form of reconstruction and economic rehabilitation, is essential to ensure that minority returns are sustainable. While the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina is recovering, especially following the introduction of the Convertible Mark in 1998, other social sectors such as health and education demand immediate attention.

Since 1991 UNHCR has led the United Nations effort to protect and assist the uprooted citizens of the former Yugoslavia. At the time the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, more than 525,000 refugees were living in the region, along with 1.2 million internally displaced and 1.4 million war affected persons. In the three years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), nearly 550,000 of the two million refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Close to one million displaced persons and refugees are still in need of a durable solution to their problem, as most of them would be returning to their areas of origin as part of a minority ethnic group. The multi-sectoral and multi-agency initiatives, such as Open Cities, as well as other joint efforts with international organizations, will be the principal vehicles for assisting the return of these minorities.

Those in need of protection and assistance

UNHCR provides assistance to three groups of persons: minorities returning to their homes of origin and the needy war-affected population in the receiving communities (they will be provided with goods or services under the shelter, household support and income-generation activities of UNHCR); persons residing in collective centres throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as vulnerable individuals identified through outreach services; and refugees living in Bosnia and Herzegovina (including some 40,000 Croatian Serbs and an estimated 10,000 refugees from Kosovo who arrived in increasing numbers after mid-1998).

Statistics compiled by local authorities indicate that women comprise approximately 55 per cent of the adult population, while 30 per cent of the total population in Bosnia and Herzegovina is under 14 years of age. More than 60 per cent of Bosnians are now living in urban areas compared to only 39 per cent before the war. The flight to cities not only reflects the economic and political changes in the country since the war, but is also a direct result of population displacements. While this shift to urban areas must be taken into consideration when planning programmes, it should not be sanctioned, as it represents the effects of ethnic cleansing during the war.


Given that much of the task of returning persons belonging to ethnic majorities was achieved by 1997, in 1999 UNHCR will focus its energies on protecting refugees and returnees and on ensuring the right of return and freedom of movement of ethnic minority populations. The return process, for both minority and majority populations, will be supported by activities in the fields of transport, shelter, income-generation, community services, reconciliation, and capacity-building coordinated with other key players. Returnees' physical safety and the establishment of an adequate legal and administrative framework for their return remain a priority.

UNHCR's special contribution to the return process is the knowledge and expertise of its staff on the ground. In 1999, the agency's field presence will be maintained and even enhanced in key locations. This will enable UNHCR to monitor returnees, reach out to others interested in return, and assist in minority returns. Though the agency will continue to provide material assistance to returnees, in 1999 the agency will emphasize protection activities aimed at removing legal obstacles, creating legal and administrative frameworks for return and helping to create return opportunities.

Creating Conditions for Living

During 1996 and 1997, UNHCR helped rehabilitate some 26,000 housing units benefiting some 126,000 persons; in 1998, a further 4,000 housing units have been rehabilitated to accommodate some 16,000 returnees. In 1999, limited resources for shelter will be made available to assist vulnerable individual returnees and to provide initial rapid responses to minority returns until other reconstruction resources are available.

Mines continue to pose a hazard for communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. UNHCR will again sponsor six de-mining teams, deployed by UNDP and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center, to clear mines from houses.

For returnees to be able to remain in their communities, job creation is as important as shelter construction. UNHCR is coordinating its efforts with UNDP, ILO and the World Bank to generate employment opportunities for poor Bosnian families (including returnees, displaced persons and vulnerable local people, with special attention to families headed by women) through grant-based and micro-credit schemes.

Until freedom of movement is improved (by the creation of new license plates and other measures), the UNHCR-sponsored bus lines are the only public transport across inter-ethnic boundaries. They enable thousands of persons to visit their former homes and re-establish pre-war links. Some of these bus lines were commercialized during 1998. Most will still be maintained and additional bus lines will be opened particularly in sensitive areas of minority return. The continued objective is gradually to hand over the operation of these bus lines to Bosnian companies or NGOs.

During 1999, UNHCR will also concentrate its efforts on finding durable solutions for most residents of collective centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This will involve integrating those residents into supportive communities, based on detailed surveys of areas of displacement and return options.

Protection and solutions

UNHCR has taken the lead in promoting legislative reform relating to displacement, return and repatriation, citizenship and asylum, in cooperation with the Council of Europe and the Office of the High Representative. Its protection programmes are aimed at raising awareness of human rights issues among government authorities, lawyers and the general public. In particular, UNHCR works closely with other organizations and with the authorities to promote return opportunities and create a legal and administrative framework conducive to return. The latter activity includes removing obstacles to return and monitoring returnees, both to prevent human rights abuses and to ensure sustainable return. A network of Legal Advice Centres, operated by local and international NGOs, is maintained with UNHCR support. These centres provide information on the availability of essential services and entitlements and offer legal advice to persons of UNHCR's concern regarding citizenship, property, legal documents, passports and asylum laws.

UNHCR also offers orientation and training to local authorities in human rights, refugee and returnee issues.


Since late 1996, the Bosnian Women's Initiative (BWI) has developed into a country-wide grass-roots programme. More than 290 projects have been implemented for war-affected Bosnian women, their families and communities. In 1999, the BWI will work with women in their communities, while also encouraging the full participation of women at all levels of society. The BWI supports projects that are self-sustaining after initial funding, are innovative and serve as models for other women's groups, and in which the intended beneficiaries are involved in the planning and design. Highest priority is given to projects which promote minority return and reintegration, community dialogue and reconciliation, freedom of movement and the restoration of civil society. While continuing to target a majority of women, the programme will expand in 1999 to encompass all members of a given community.


Over the past few years, UNHCR has directed a substantial proportion of its resources to building the operational capacity of national and local authorities, NGOs, communities and grass-roots movements, to enable them to assume increasing responsibility for the post-conflict recovery and development process. While UNHCR will increasingly devolve humanitarian-relief responsibilities to these institutions during 1999, the agency also will ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are met. Persons living in collective centres, the elderly, handicapped, severely war-traumatized individuals and households with no income will continue to receive special assistance. This includes community service and outreach programmes for isolated elderly and disabled persons, and complementary food items and limited quantities of household items for some 11,000 residents in approximately 100 collective centres in the Federation and Republika Srpska. Vulnerable groups also benefit from the many self-sufficiency and capacity-building projects within Open Cities and Bosnian Women's Initiative.


UNHCR continues to promote the responsibility of and coordination among NGOs, government agencies and local authorities for all stages of rehabilitation and development, especially in providing a social assistance safety net once a phase-out of humanitarian assistance gets underway. The Return and Reconstruction Taskforce (RRTF), a joint coordination forum involving the key actors, will be strengthened to foster effective cooperation among all concerned and ensure a smooth transition to development.

Lessons learned

Through successful return and reintegration operations in Africa, Asia and Europe, UNHCR has acquired considerable expertise in post-conflict situations. Increasingly, the agency fosters reintegration of returning refugees and displaced persons through community-based activities which benefit both returnees and the local population, as a whole. This approach is particularly important in areas in which ethnic resentment and tensions still simmer, such as in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Returns can only be sustainable if the returnees' physical safety can be guaranteed and if legal and administrative conditions are the same for all ethnic groups.


In the three years since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced substantial, though uneven progress in its political, economic and social rehabilitation and reconstruction. The peace remains fragile and it has become clear that post-conflict reconciliation and rehabilitation will take longer than envisaged. Normalization of relations between countries of the former Yugoslavia and the resolve of the international community to stay on course with the Dayton Peace Agreement is critical to ensuring a sustainable peace and the promotion of durable solutions for the uprooted populations throughout the region. The last three years saw the return of large numbers of people to their homes. Regrettably, few of these returnees repatriated from the principal asylum countries in the immediate region (i.e. Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). Most returns were from Germany and other Western European countries which encourage repatriation with incentive packages consisting of financial and material assistance. Minority returns have also been limited, with only some 60,000 refugees and internally displaced persons returning between 1996 and 1998. It is clear that continued efforts are required to create conditions under which large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons from ethnic minorities will be able to return to their homes.


UNHCR continues to be the catalyst for the creation of an environment conducive for return. Activities promoted and launched by UNHCR, such as the inter-entity bus lines, legal aid and information centres, the Voluntary Return Application System (RADS), and the successful return of minorities, have often prepared the ground for sustainable rehabilitation and development. On many occasions, UNHCR has identified and removed substantial obstacles to return and taken the lead in promoting basic human, civil and civic rights in an effort to ensure implementation of Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Budget US$

ActivitiesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support1,000,000
Water Supply800,000
Shelter/Other Infrastructures13,800,000
Community Services2,600,000
Legal Assistance/Protection6,600,000
Agency Operational Support4,900,000
Programme Delivery Costs*15,758,098
Administrative Support Costs2,807,928