Mon –37 Construction of 21 apartments for 53 refugees and local persons in Berane and 18 apartments for 45 refugees and local persons in Kolasin
German Foreign Ministry/UNHCR
:: REALISATION / BUDGET
April 2005 until January 2006:: € 506.375
:: SHORT DESCRIPTION
Unsatisfied needs for adequate housing were identified by the Stability Pact’s Regional Return Initiative to be one of the most serious impediments to the implementation of sustainable solutions for displaced populations in South Eastern Europe. Lack of public and social housing was found to be equally affecting the stability of poor local populations slowing the overall socia-economic recovery process and hampering integration efforts. However, solving this problem is one of the substantial conditons for stability in the region. According to the newly adopted National Strategy for Resolving the Issues of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons solutions for the problems of refugees and displaced persons should be found within a 3 years period. The first permanent solution is to initiate the repatriation process for refugees and return of internally displaced persons to Kosovo. Local integration would provide basic rights for refugees permanently settled in Montenegro as well as protection and help for internally displaced persons. Living in third countries is another option mentioned in this strategy.
At the initiative of the EU, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the OSCE on 31 January 2005 a ministerial conference was held in Sarajevo. At this occasion Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegowina as well as Croatia signed a tri-lateral agreement through which the parties agreed to pass all required laws in order to facilitate the return of refugees or enable local integration on a non-discriminatory manner based on the free will of the refugees.
As reported the right on return shall in no way be compromised. However, after a decade of living in the countries of asylum integration into the local society appears to be the solution of first choice for the bulk of the refugees. To this end the country of asylum will enable local integration for those refugees who have opted for this solution in accordance with their jurisdiction. The international community, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the EU as well as the OSCE was requested to support the respective governments for the return as well as for the local integration of refugees financially as well as in any other form. After their return respectively upon their local integration refugees will enjoy the same rights as any other citizen. Among these are the rights for education, social care, health and pension insurance.
The agreement of Sarajevo refers to persons whose status is characterised as refugees. However, the Montenegrin Commissioner for Refugees and Displaced Persons, Mr. Zeljko Sofranac, indicated already that the stay of the remaining 18.000 displaced persons from Kosovo has the same consequences as the one of the remaining 8.400 refugees. He suggested that Serbia and Montegro should adopt a similar agreement with UNMIK for the sake of the displaced persons.
The National Strategy mentions as one priority intervention the provision of living space for refugees who have opted for local integration. The strategy aims at finding permanent solutions for the socially most vulnerable persons and those accomodated in collective centres that are earmarked for closure. Projects providing living space for refugees should at the same time also include local social cases and displaced persons from Kosovo. Given the severe limitation of national resources implementation of the national strategy depends to a great deal on external support.
According to the national strategy living space is required for a total of 6.700 households: among those 2.100 are refugee, 3.300 displaced persons from Kosovo and 1.300 local social cases households.
With the provision of alternative living space the strategy aims at eventually closing all collective centres in the country.
Berane, situated in the North of the country, is a former industrial town and was once one of the most developed centres of the region with a prosperous cellulose and paper production. It is now, more or less, a “lost place”, with a high number of refugees per capita. The population is 35.000 persons; apart from 239 refugees from BiH and Croatia there remain 2.434 displaced persons from Kosovo in this municipality. This corresponds to 7.6% of refugees and displaced persons compared with the overall population.
Among the refugees and displaced persons the inhabitants of two collective centres “Adra Containers” and “Monastery Cottages” live under extremely bad conditions. They are mainly elderly, single persons. Their living units are of particularly bad quality: the Adra Containers are simple transport containers without isolation turned into emergeny shelters. The people live in simple rooms with common facilities but without kitchen.
The Monastery Cottages are simple prefab houses of poor quality that years ago were meant as short time temporary solutions. Now they are no more than dilapidated shacks.
It is foreseen to close down and demolish these two collective centres once a new building with 21 units has been constructed.
Kolasin is situated in the Tara valley in the North of the country. Its population comprises 10.000 persons; the town of Kolasin itself has 6.000 including 151 displaced persons from Kosovo and 133 refugees. They live in a collective centre of inferior quality called “Dom Ucenika.” The municipality has been undertaking efforts to solve the problems of shelter for these persons.
The inhabitants in the collective centre “Dom Ucenika” are also mainly elderly and single persons. They are the socially most vulnerable group of people in need of alternative living space as it is foreseen to close down this dilapidated collective centre.
Additional information on the target groups of the project
23 persons who have been living as displaced persons in the collective centre “Adra Containers”, 20 persons who have been living in CC “Monastery Cottages”, 2 persons accomodated in a simple container in the vicinity of the Adra Containers as well as 2 local families from Berane with up to 8 members.
There are 18 single persons, 7 couples, 2 families with 4 members each as well as 1 family with 5 members.
35 persons who have been living in CC “Dom Ucenika” and two local families with up to 8 persons.
The persons in the collective centre are mainly elderly singles many of them suffering from chronic illnesses.
There are 16 singles, 5 couples as well as 3 families with 3 members each.
Construction of one building with 633 m² living space for a total of 53 persons. Apartments of different size in accordance with the size of the families will be built. Each apartment will dispose of a living room and a small bathroom. Two elderly singles will be requested to share one apartment of 23 m². Sharing arrangements shall be done in a socially compatibel manner.
The municipality of Berane is fully committed for the implemenation of this project. In agreement with the municipality the local non-governmental organization “Kolo Srpskih Sestara” has provided a plot which was connected to the local infrastructure last year. Water, canalisation and electricty are available and there are two access roads from both sides of the plot. The plot which was originally made available to Kolo Srpskih Sestara by the Orthodox Church is in the immediate vicinity of an existing settlement. The aforementioned “Monastery Cottages” are located on one side of this plot. The partly handicapped or chronically ill inhabitants of the Monastery Cottages are taken care of by Kolo Srpskih Sestara (KSS). KSS has committed itself to maintain the new building and provide home care for its elderly and needy population. This is important as to date there is but one social instiution in Montenegro looking after eldery persons – and that one is situated in the coastal region.
Construction of a building with 529 m² living space for a total of 35 persons. Apartments of different size in accordance with the size of the families will be built. Each apartment will dispose of a living room and a small bathroom.
The municipality of Kolasin has made available a plot for the construction of the building and connection to infrastructure (water, electricity).
After completion of the construction and after all the selected beneficiaries have moved into the buildings these will be handed over to the municipality of Kolasin and to the local NGO Kolo Srpskih Sestara in Berane. The two partners have committed themselves to guarantee the right of living in these premises for a minimum of 15 years. There is a common understanding that apartments that will become vacant will be made available to other vulnerable persons.
As a complimentary measure the project design includes a component for the promotion of income-generating activities. The support for income-generation activities is meant to strengthen the financial situation of the benefiaries and to generate the means required for the maintenance and operation of the two buildings. As most of the future beneficiaries are old or chronically ill income-generating activities it is foreseen to implement this component in cooperation with local NGOs.
Cooperation with UNHCR and the Montenegrin Commissariat for Displaced Persons and Refugees (MCDP)
HELP has established very close cooperation with the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Podgorica and MCDP. Contributing financially for the elaboration of building plans (€ 11.375) UNHCR has also become a formal project partner in this project. Close cooperation with the respective partners ensures targetting of beneficiaries reaches those who most need external assistance.