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UNHCR urgently seeks $236.million for Bosnia repatriation

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UNHCR urgently seeks $236.million for Bosnia repatriation

29 November 1996

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday it urgently needs $236 million for its 1997 programme for the former Yugoslavia that centres on the return of refugees and displaced people.

The amount UNHCR seeks is part of a $544 million consolidated appeal by 11 U.N. agencies launched on Friday by High Commissioner Sadako Ogata and Under-Secretary-General Yasushi Akashi.

"Unless contributions come in, UNHCR will be unable to start its programme for Bosnia-Herzegovina and neighbouring republics," Ogata said. "1997 is the second year of peace in Bosnia. UNHCR wants to make it the year of return and organized repatriation." Finding solutions for the refugees and displaced persons, she said, will be the key to the success of the overall peace plan.

So far, only 250,000 have returned, mainly to majority areas. However, large-scale repatriation to majority areas is hampered by lack of accommodation, jobs and by landmines. Local authorities refuse to allow returns to minority areas.

In 1997, UNHCR will continue to encourage returns to 22 target areas in Bosnia. Since last June, UNHCR and other organizations have made considerable progress in reconstructing these priority areas. Houses and water supply systems have been rebuilt there and education and health services have been restored in close cooperation with the World Bank, the International Management Group and the European Commission, among other agencies. UNHCR plans to increase the number of target areas next year and to encourage other organizations to help create conditions for repatriation.

UNHCR also will increase its protection efforts and the monitoring and reporting on the treatment of returnees. In order to create an environment conducive for returns, UNHCR will continue its confidence-building measures.

In cooperation with countries of asylum, UNHCR will facilitate the return of refugees from abroad. Jointly, host countries and UNHCR will identify those who wish to return to their place of origin and those who desire to go to a place of their choice in Bosnia. Information campaigns will be intensified and the registration process will be accelerated in host countries.

The $236 million UNHCR is seeking includes $125 million for Bosnia-Herzegovina, $22 million for Croatia, $40 million for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and over $1 million for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Half of the UNHCR budget for Bosnia-Herzegovina will be focused on persons repatriating from abroad, 40 percent for the return or relocation of internally displaced persons and 10 percent for internally displaced or vulnerable groups who do not change location in 1997.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are 1.3 million persons of concern to UNHCR of whom 200,000 are returnees. Croatia hosts 140,000 refugees and 110,000 displaced persons, FRY 566,000 and FYROM 5,100.