Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Federal Republic of Yugoslavia


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Provide protection and seek durable solutions for more than half a million refugees in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY); help almost half of these refugees meet their basic daily needs; meet the protection and relief needs of internally displaced persons and others severely affected by the conflict in Kosovo; and support rehabilitation and return.

Who we help

UNHCR will assist all refugees who wish to repatriate voluntarily to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Croatia. The budget will include a provision to assist 50,000 persons with transport and a small travel allowance. Resettlement of another 4,000 refugees will be facilitated. A total of 30,000 refugees will benefit from income-generation and food production programmes, and an additional 4,000 persons will be assisted with permanent housing, linked to employment. A total of 225,500 refugees will receive some form of direct humanitarian assistance (food and/or household items) during the first six months of 1999. A review of refugees in need of assistance will be conducted towards mid-1999. It is expected that the number of refugees accommodated in collective centres will decrease from 40,000 to 30,000 during 1999 as a result of repatriation, resettlement and local integration.

Each month, UNHCR will help some 80 mandate refugees and asylum-seekers from countries outside the former Yugoslavia cover their daily needs pending the identification of a durable solution (repatriation or resettlement).

UNHCR will provide immediate relief assistance to some 300,000 persons in Kosovo who were displaced or otherwise seriously affected by the 1998 crisis there. The agency will also help them rebuild their lives. UNHCR will cover the daily requirements of another 65,000 persons, displaced from Kosovo into Montenegro and parts of Serbia other than Kosovo. These persons will also be assisted should they choose, voluntarily, to return to their homes in Kosovo. Some 35,000 persons who found refuge in countries outside the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, such as Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, will be assisted upon their voluntary repatriation to Kosovo.

Our requirements

US$ 60,747,377

Our offices

Belgrade, Kosovska Mitrovica, Kraljevo, Pec, Podgorica, Pristina, Prizren, Novi Sad.

Our partners

Care International (Care), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Children's Aid Direct (CAD), Commissioner for Displaced Persons in Montenegro (MCDP), Commissioner for Refugees in Serbia (SCR), Commission for Real Property Claims (CRPC), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Handicap International (HI), Hi Neighbour (HN), Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC), Institute for Mental Health (IMH), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS), Japanese Emergency NGOs (JEN), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), ODGOVOR, Oxfam, Radio B92, Save the Children Fund UK (SCF/UK), Swiss Disaster Relief (SDR).


As a result of the 1992-1995 war in the former Yugoslavia, refugees from both Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Croatia fled to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). During the refugee census conducted in 1996, a total of 566,000 refugees were registered. Since then, some 89,000 are estimated to have found a durable solution through repatriation, resettlement or naturalization. However, during the past year, a new group of some 50,000 persons moved from the Eastern Danubian region of Croatia to the FRY in search of asylum.

The 1998 violence in Kosovo between Serb forces and Kosovo Albanians has led to the displacement of as many as 300,000 persons. Some 24,000 fled to Albania, several thousands sought refuge in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and others fled to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to Turkey and to various other countries in Europe. Another 45,000 found refuge in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Republic of Montenegro, while an estimated 20,000 persons moved to locations elsewhere in Serbia. However, most of those uprooted by the conflict - an estimated 200,000 - have stayed in Kosovo, while at least another 100,000 in Kosovo are seriously affected by the conflict and in need of assistance.

The economic conditions in the FRY deteriorated during 1998. A major devaluation in early 1998 was followed by inflation, thus further limiting the opportunities for refugees to integrate in the country. More than 40 per cent of the more than half a million refugees in the FRY still depend on humanitarian assistance. The previously generous health care and social welfare system in the country has almost collapsed. Though refugees have, in principle, free access to medical care, in practice, various medical interventions and drugs need to be paid for directly by the patients. This situation affects both citizens and refugees (especially children and the elderly); but refugees are in a much more vulnerable position as many cannot rely on a social security network of relatives and friends to provide support.

The situation in Kosovo contributed to a further deterioration of the economy in the FRY. Additional taxes were imposed in the country while sanctions were renewed, undermining the country's ability to revive its economy. The FRY has no access to support from international financial development institutions and its dubious status in the world directly affects its inhabitants, in particular those refugees and internally displaced persons who are already living on the edge of survival.

Those in need of protection and assistance

Almost three years after the conclusion of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and more than two years after the signing of the Agreement on Normalisation of Relations between the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, there are still a total of 527,000 refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the FRY. Though both agreements include provisions for the return of refugees and displaced persons to their areas of previous residence, actual repatriation has been limited due to, among other reasons, security considerations and lack of adequate housing in the places of intended return.

A food aid needs-assessment mission carried out in March 1998 by UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP), together with representatives from ECHO, the Government of the United States of America and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), concluded that a total of 225,500 refugees from the former Yugoslavia require food assistance under a humanitarian relief programme. This includes the most vulnerable refugees who are accommodated in collective centres throughout the country and who number some 40,000 as of late 1998. Others include those with special needs, such as single-parent families, disabled or chronically ill persons, elderly and other destitute refugees who have no resources to support themselves and who depend on external help.

Some internally displaced persons in Kosovo returned home prior to the start of the 1998/1999 winter. Others remain displaced, most of them finding temporary shelter with local residents. Many of the internally displaced persons who have been able to return home have found their houses partially destroyed, and emergency assistance is provided to them by United Nations agencies, NGOs and local authorities to render at least part of the houses habitable during the winter. Those internally displaced persons who could not return to their own homes due to security considerations, or because their houses had been completely destroyed, are assisted where they are.

In Kosovo itself, the fighting has damaged all sectors of life, including housing, health and education facilities, trading, communications and infrastructure. Even before the major violence started this year, the economy in Kosovo was weak, with unemployment levels reaching 75 per cent, and with many families surviving on support from relatives abroad. Health and education services were provided through parallel channels, of which one was exclusively for the Kosovo Albanian community. While before the clashes a considerable number of Kosovo Albanians were receiving humanitarian assistance by international NGOs, the 1998 clashes in Kosovo made a large part of the population totally dependent on external support even for the most immediate daily requirements.

Mandate refugees and asylum-seekers from countries outside the former Yugoslavia require both protection and assistance. The numbers are limited; but most remain completely dependent on support from UNHCR until repatriation or resettlement becomes an available option.


UNHCR works to support durable solutions for refugees in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by facilitating voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration, while continuing to provide essential relief aid to the most vulnerable groups. The agency also provides protection and assistance to internally displaced persons and others in Kosovo, enabling them to return home and rebuild their lives; helps sensitize the public and national institutions to the issues of asylum, refugee status and refugee rights; and supports NGOs, both national and international, and helps strengthen their capacity to provide humanitarian assistance.

Protection and Solutions

Protection activities concern all refugees in the country and include offering counselling to individuals, intervening on their behalf with the relevant authorities, supporting the granting of citizenship, and monitoring refugees to ensure that their rights to health and social care, to education and employment are maintained or - in the case of mandate refugees and asylum-seekers from countries outside the former Yugoslavia - are acknowledged and honoured.

UNHCR supports the work of the Commission for Real Property Claims which enables refugees to receive confirmation of their rights to property left behind in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Close cooperation with the relevant authorities in Croatia and the FRY and support to refugees from Croatia who would also like to reclaim their left property is also envisaged. All these activities support the development of durable solutions, whether through repatriation or through local integration. UNHCR hopes to facilitate the repatriation of some 50,000 refugees to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Croatia during 1999. Refugees who, because of their background, are not able to repatriate to their own country or integrate in the FRY, will be considered for resettlement. This also applies to mandate refugees. It is foreseen that some 4,000 refugees from the former Yugoslavia will be resettled during 1999, while the possibilities for resettlement (or repatriation) of the limited number of mandate refugees will be reviewed case-by-case.

Advocacy and Assistance

Protection of displaced persons and others who are affected by the crisis in Kosovo will consist of strong advocacy for the right to return home from locations within the country or from abroad, and for freedom of movement in the FRY for all those living in Kosovo or those who have been displaced from Kosovo to other parts of Serbia and to Montenegro. Protection will also include unlimited access by humanitarian organizations to all populations in need. This will allow for needs assessments, delivery of relief assistance, monitoring and reporting on the needy population's access to health and education services and employment opportunities. Remedial action will be taken to address any gaps in coverage that may be identified.

Assistance in the form of food, household items, shelter material and support to the areas' infrastructures, will be required for at least half of those affected. As different ethnic groups are involved in the conflict in Kosovo, it is important that community- and peace-building activities are launched.

Women and children

Women are encouraged to participate in income-generation projects and special projects for children and for the elderly have been developed. UNHCR is launching new initiatives to help children affected by the Kosovo crisis which include psycho-social counselling and support and the provision of school facilities and learning materials. Hygiene parcels for babies and small children are distributed to ensure that basic supplies are available. The impact of the Kosovo crisis on women has been substantial. Women who used to live in relative isolation are finding themselves assuming much larger responsibilities which extend beyond the family. To help them adapt to their new roles, women will be given opportunities to exchange their experiences and ideas with one another.


The displacement of large numbers of persons in Kosovo has made it necessary to organize the supply of firewood for heating and cooking during the winter. Random cutting of firewood occurred during displacement. So far, the damage is limited.


UNHCR is the lead agency in the international humanitarian assistance programme to refugees and internally displaced persons in the FRY. Regular meetings are held at various levels with relevant government agencies, other United Nations agencies and with NGOs, both local and international, to review requirements and available resources and to coordinate delivery of assistance. UNHCR provides radio escorts to humanitarian convoys carrying a variety of relief supplies provided by United Nations agencies and by NGOs.

Close cooperation and coordination among humanitarian agencies in the FRY is a necessity for the operational capability of the NGOs. While authorities in the FRY accept the presence of international NGOs, the agencies cannot be registered because of a legislative impediment. A draft law to redress this problem is under consideration; meanwhile NGOs depend on agencies like the International Committee of the Red Cross and UNHCR to be able to operate in the country.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral ProgrammesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support165,4007,081,700
Water Supply200,000
Shelter/Other Infrastructures19,519,400
Community Services3,054,300
Crop Production400,000
Livestock/Animal Husbandry600,000
Legal Assistance/Protection10,0001,201,500
Agency Operational Support2,275,200
Programme Delivery Costs*6,103,197
Administrative Support1,009,480
TOTAL GP + SP60,747,377

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.