Paris, 1 December 2016 – The 9th meeting of the RHP Steering Committee and the 13th meeting of the RHP Fund Assembly of Donors took place on 1 December in the premises of the Council of Europe Development Bank in Paris.
Three new grant proposals, two for Montenegro (0.9 MEUR and 1.4 MEUR) and one for Serbia (9.2 MEUR) were approved by the RHP Assembly of Donors today. In addition, the Donors approved Bosnia’s request for an increase of budget/scope in two previously approved housing projects (2.5 MEUR in total). Overall, the projects approved will provide further 650 housing units to the beneficiaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.
The European Union, represented by the European Commission, RHP’s biggest Donor, confirmed that it will be fulfilling its pledge to the RHP, as declared at the Sarajevo Donors’ Conference that took place in April 2012. The Commission has so far committed 121 MEUR to the RHP Fund, while a full commitment of the pledged amount could provide some 3 000 additional housing units by 2021.
Morten Jung, Head of Unit for Western Balkans, Regional Cooperation and Programmes at the European Commission, complimented the RHP stakeholders for the good performance. The RHP is now delivering housing solutions at a steady pace, putting an end to many beneficiaries’ agony in acquiring a decent home and living conditions. The European Commission appreciates the current platform and re-confirms its intention to commit the initial pledge in its totality. The Commission fully supports a sustainable response to the protracted refugee situation in the Western Balkans.
Georg Hagl, Germany’s representative at the Assembly of Donors and Co-chair for 2016, announced that as a sign of appreciation for RHP’s progress, Germany has decided to pledge an additional 1 MEUR to the RHP Fund to be committed still in 2016.
RHP rate of delivery reaching its peak in 2017 and 2018
RHP stakeholders agreed that RHP implementation is currently in full swing: by the end of 2016, about 1 000 housing units will have been delivered, while in 2017, this figure will quadruple. In 2018, altogether 7 300 housing units are expected to be handed over to the benefit of more than 21 000 vulnerable refugees/IDPs, under the projects approved to date. The RHP Donors urged Partner Countries to maintain this pace and focus on increasing the sustainability aspects of the housing delivered.
Enhanced regional cooperation
During the Steering Committee meeting, the Partner Countries gave a strong message underlining the importance of the RHP in the regional cooperation and reconciliation process. Being a regional programme and part of the wider Sarajevo Process, the RHP has been a platform where daily cooperation on political and operational levels has enhanced constructive dialogue. The important role that the UNHCR and the OSCE play in the RHP, especially as regards monitoring beneficiary selection and sustainability aspects, was praised by all stakeholders, as well as the CEB’s role in managing the Programme.
Minister Semiha Borovac from the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina briefed the Steering Committee on a joint statement by the four Countries. In this statement, the Partner Countries stress that it is necessary to maintain the regional character of the RHP, not only because the projects are all interconnected but also because this Programme is a part of a wider political process which contributes to enhancing neighbourly relations and stability in the region.
CEB’s Governor Rolf Wenzel underlined: “After four years of continuously improved cooperation and performance, the Partner Counties deserve due recognition for their efforts to provide sustainable housing solutions to thousands of vulnerable persons. The CEB will continue to provide substantive support to the Countries in order to ensure a steady pace of deliveries and contribute to the improved quality of the housing projects. The CEB welcomes the European Commission’s confirmation that it will be committing further funds to the RHP, under its initial pledge”.
The U.S. representative Sam Healy transmitted a message from Nancy Izzo Jackson, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, who renewed the commitment of the U.S. to the RHP and thanked the stakeholders for the impressive results. Now that the implementation of the RHP has reached a good pace, she reminded that providing housing alone is not sufficient; the Partner Countries are encouraged to put more focus on sustainability measures in the future years.
Italy elected to Co-chair
The Assembly of Donors unanimously elected Italy as the Co-chair of the RHP Fund Assembly of Donors and the RHP Steering Committee for the year 2017.
Key figures (1st December 2016):
Pledged to the RHP: EUR 269 million
Committed to the RHP Fund: EUR 160 million
Paid into RHP Fund: EUR 123 million
Grants approved: EUR 155 million
Grants disbursed: EUR 52 million
RHP info desk: Secretariat of the Regional Housing Programme firstname.lastname@example.org
- 1 Dec, 2016
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