10th Regional Housing Programme (RHP) Steering Committee in Belgrade confirms Partner Countries’ commitment to the RHP
The 10th meeting of the RHP Steering Committee and the 14th meeting of the RHP Fund Assembly of Donors took place on 26 June 2017 in Belgrade, at the Palace of Serbia. The meetings, which were followed by a press conference, were attended by the RHP Partner Countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, the RHP Donors the EU, the U.S.A, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, as well as the RHP implementing partners UNHCR, OSCE and the CEB.
The Steering Committee meeting was opened by the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Mr Ivica Dacic and by the Minister in charge of EU Integration Ms Jadranka Joksimovic. The Acting Head of the EU Delegation in Belgrade Mr Oskar Benedikt and the U.S. Ambassador H.E. Mr Kyle Scott also addressed the participants.
The Steering Committee welcomed the decision of the Assembly of Donors to approve two new projects for Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, worth in total EUR 31 million. It was further concluded that the RHP is making good progress in all Partner Countries, with over 1 100 housing solutions already delivered to the beneficiaries. 2017 will be a key year as up to 2 000 supplementary housing units are scheduled to be completed by year-end. The Partner Countries confirmed their strong commitment to the RHP and their focused effort to provide durable housing solutions to the most vulnerable remaining refugees. This commitment underlines the regional spirit and positive effect that the Programme has on the neighbourly relations.
All stakeholders acknowledged the regional and reconciliatory dimension as being one of the key results of the RHP up to date.
The Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Mr Ivica Dacic said: “There is no doubt that the Regional Housing Programme will be implemented successfully. The approval of the 8th sub-project for Serbia is an excellent piece of news, encouraging us to continue implementing the Programme and demonstrating that the needs of refugees in Serbia are still recognized by the donors”. Minister Dacic added that his country’s objective is to accommodate every single one of the remaining people with refugee status.
Minister in charge of EU Integration Ms Jadranka Joksimovic stated that the EU is by far the biggest donor to Serbia and that in the past 15 years, EU grants amount to close to EUR 3 billion, while Germany is the biggest bilateral donor with EUR 1.6 billion.
The Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Mr Oskar Benedikt reminded that the EU is the largest RHP donor with a pledge of EUR 232 million. He stated that the RHP is an embodiment of the core European values of cooperation, reconciliation and solidarity and added that it is important to provide assistance in all possible ways, so as to heal the wounds and help those most in need.
The Ambassador of the U.S. to Serbia H.E. Kyle Scott said: “At its essence, this program is about giving people a new lease on life, but it also stands out as a strong example of regional collaboration.” The Ambassador confirmed that the U.S. will continue to support the RHP financially, but also politically and operationally.
The Ambassador of Germany H.E. Axel Dittmann said that EU’s involvement in the RHP is a proof of its commitment to the Western Balkans as well as of the European perspective of the countries in the region.
Ambassador Andrea Orizio, Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, stated: “The OSCE values the contribution of the RHP towards restoring the lives of the remaining victims of the conflict on the territory of the Former Yugoslavia. In addition, the close co-operation of all Partner Countries magnifies the overall effect of the Programme, by promoting reconciliation and contributing to the stability and security of the region.”
The UNHCR Regional Representative for South Eastern Europe Ms Anne-Christine Eriksson reiterated UNHCR’s readiness to support the Partner Countries in establishing quality standards and mechanisms for a process that would secure that RHP continues to reach the neediest, and that it does not only provide for a roof over their heads, but also provides the opportunity to move on with their lives in dignity and being fully integrated in their old, or new, communities.
The Deputy Director General of Loans and Social Development of the Council of Europe Development Bank Mr Stephan Sellen stressed the Bank’s social mandate and underlined that the CEB is supporting the Partner Countries on all aspects of RHP implementation. He further reminded that the CEB is also providing additional grants to Serbia to help the country cope with the current refugee crisis.
The following day, the RHP stakeholders visited two RHP-funded projects close to Belgrade, namely the construction site of 235 apartments in Ovca, to be completed in November this year. After Ovca, the RHP stakeholders had the opportunity to meet the 1 000th RHP beneficiary family in Serbia, which received a prefabricated house in Pancevo.
- 26 Jun, 2017
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