“A heart-warming moment”: European Commission President von der Leyen, CEB Governor Monticelli and Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Borjana Krišto celebrate achievements of Regional Housing Programme in Vogošća, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Vogošća, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1 November 2023 – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gathered with the Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Borjana Krišto; the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) Governor Carlo Monticelli; EU Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Johann Sattler; as well as representatives from individual Donor countries, UNHCR and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and others in Vogošća, BiH today, to celebrate the opening of a new Regional Housing Programme (RHP) apartment building for most-vulnerable refugee families, and the imminent successful closure of this landmark Programme in December 2023.
The RHP – a joint initiative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia (the “Partner Countries”) aimed to provide secure homes to the most-vulnerable refugees and internally-displaced persons in these four countries following the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As such, the RHP was the first joint post-conflict initiative between these countries.
The Programme has been financed mainly by the international community, with the European Union the main Donor. Out of the EUR 294 million contributed by Donors to the RHP, EUR 238 million – or 81% – was provided by the EU. Other RHP Donors include USA, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Türkiye and Luxembourg. The Partner Countries were supported by the CEB with respect to implementation and capacity building as well as the management of Donor funds, and UNHCR and the OSCE with regard to beneficiary selection and sustainability aspects.
As the RHP approaches its end, approximately 11 300 families – or close to 36 000 persons – have received secure homes across the Western Balkans after almost three decades of displacement. In BiH specifically, almost 2 800 housing units have been delivered to approximately 9 000 most-vulnerable persons. Beyond bricks and mortar, the RHP has brought numerous additional benefits to the region, including improved capacity to implement projects, as well as strengthened regional partnerships, thus contributing to the reconciliation process. The closure of the Programme will be commemorated at the RHP Final Conference in Sarajevo, BiH on 29 November 2023.
The event was also attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Elmedin Konaković; Federal Minister of Displaced Persons and Refugees, Nerin Dizdar; Minister of Communications and Transport of BiH, Edin Forto; Minister of Defence of BiH, Zukan Helez; Minister of Civil Affairs, Dubravka Bošnjak; DG NEAR Director-General at the European Commission, Gert Jan Koopman; Ambassador of Norway to BiH, Olav Reinertsen; UNHCR Representative in BiH, Lucie Gagné; Mayor of Vogošća, Migdad Hasanović, and other RHP Donor representatives and dignitaries, in addition to the 27 beneficiary families receiving the keys to their new apartments.
President von der Leyen reflected with satisfaction on the role of the EU in the RHP. “For the past 10 years, the Regional Housing Programme has provided a home to nearly 36 000 people – refugees and displaced persons from the wars of the 1990s,” she said. “The EU has proudly supported the Programme since the first day. Today, 27 families get a new home. A heart-warming moment.”
Following the ceremony, Governor Monticelli stated: “The CEB is proud to have played a key role in the RHP over the last decade, in close partnership with the European Union, the other Donors, as well as UNHCR and the OSCE, and Partner Countries. The RHP has proven to be a highly successful initiative in providing homes to those most in need. Indeed, it can serve as a valuable model for future regional co-operation in other post-conflict or reconstruction contexts.”
- 1 Nov, 2023
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