The End of an Era [Download here]
"Building Reintegrated and Prosperous Communities"»
"Towards a Sustainable Tomorrow
- Partnership, Participation and Inclusion"»
"Return to Srebrenica, Bratunac
UMCOR's work in Stolac»
Minority Returns in Bosnia and Herzegovina"»
The Dayton Peace Accords signed on 22 November 1995
finally brought an end to the most brutal and violent
fighting in Europe since World War II. The 1992-1995 war
in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) resulted in the death of
hundreds of thousands, the forced displacement of over
60% of the population, the physical and psychological
suffering of millions and economic losses that are still
UMCOR opened an office in BiH in 1993, located in Zenica,
to provide relief
supplies to the war-affected population. The main office
was moved from Zenica to Sarajevo in January 1998 and
field offices are currently maintained in Banja Luka,
Bratunac, Kupres, Modrica, Mostar and Visegrad. In
mid-1996, as the needs in the former Yugoslavia changed
following the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords,
UMCOR's activities in BiH were modified to reflect the
transition from emergency relief to development. UMCOR's
overall goal in BiH was changed accordingly to
facilitate sustainable minority returns for citizens of
all ethnic groups in support of the creation of a
thriving, stable, democratic and pluralistic society.
To this end, UMCOR has facilitated the return of
thousands of families and individuals. Through UMCOR's
integrated multi-sectoral programming approach, homes
have been reconstructed, assistance provided to support
the economic revitalization of communities and the
re-birth of civil society has been
facilitated through various
community development programs.
UMCOR BiH implements programs with funding from a
variety of generous donors including: Action by Churches
Together (ACT), Diakonie, Dutch Government, Interchurch
Organization for Development Co-operation (ICCO), Swiss
Interchurch Aid (HEKS), Swiss Government, United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States
Institute of Peace (USIP), and the U.S. Department of
State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
UMCOR BiH implemented 19
projects in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
(FBiH) and the Republika Srpska (RS) in
2003. UMCOR projects
continue to build upon UMCOR's extensive experience in
promoting minority return and reconciliation through
shelter and repatriation activities, community
development, infrastructure rehabilitation and provision
of sustainability inputs. The projects are implemented
from UMCOR's BiH headquarters in Sarajevo and its
sub-field offices located throughout BiH.
Edina Dizdar, her husband and daughter are minority returnees to Mostar town where they returned in the summer of 2003. The Dizdar's monthly household income is 300 KM earned from Edina's work as a tailor and from seasonal labor by her husband. Edina applied and received a loan in July 2004 of 4,745KM with a 50% repayment obligation for the purchase of equipment for a tailor's workshop (an industrial iron and a sewing machine).
During the last monitoring visit in February 2005 the household's monthly income was assessed to have increased 67% from 300 to 500 KM as a result of the additional income generated by Edina's tailoring work.
Minority returnees throughout BiH face basic
difficulties in earning a living for themselves and
their families. The absence of economic stability and
prosperity is a barrier to the reintegration of returnee
families and the stabilisation of their communities.
UMCOR aims to support, accelerate and solidify the
process of return of refugees and internally displaced
persons through Economic Development programs
which provide income generation opportunities to vulnerable
individuals and families in selected minority returnee
communities throughout BiH. Through increased income
generation activities, returnee families and communities
will become economically self-sufficient which will in
turn ensure improved long-term sustainability.
Economic Development incorporates Income Generation
and Technical Assistance programs as well as Community
Economic Action Strategies (CEAS), a new activity
which aims to strengthen
organizations such as cooperatives and
community associations and focuses on the
facilitation of market linkages.
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The generous support of the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID), the United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other donors make
Economic Development programs and services to
communities in BiH possible. UMCOR BiH completed
implementation of the
"Sustaining Minority Returns in
Bosnia and Herzegovina"
program in 2003, funded by USAID. UMCOR was subsequently awarded
a second USAID grant to support implementation
"Building Reintegrated and
Prosperous Communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina" program. The governments of both the Federation of BiH
and the Republika Srpska have also
pledged their support.
Civil society programs have been implemented in
communities split by inter-ethnic war,
experiencing minority return, as well as in collective
centers for refugees and IDPs. Activities are designed
to promote core values such as democratic culture,
tolerance and dialogue, promoting pluralism and human
Reorganization in 2003 saw the incorporation of
community development and capacity building programs
into the Civil Society Department. Civil society
programs build on UMCOR's previous work and experience
within BiH and in other parts of the world. UMCOR
supports programs aimed at strengthening civil society
in the following areas:
In 2003, UMCOR received funding from USAID for the implementation of a program which is groundbreaking
within the fields of civil society and capacity building
in BiH. Entitled "Towards a Sustainable Tomorrow - Partnership, Participation and Inclusion", the program aims to
improve the fundraising practices of four local NGOs through training, public relations and the design and implementation of a fundraising campaign. A further goal
is to increase the philanthropy of local communities and
businesses within BiH as well as to improve the image of
LNGOs amongst the general public.
UMCOR BiH's relief (formerly shelter and rehabilitation) projects are designed to contribute to the implementation of Annex 7 of the Dayton Peace Accords, which addresses the fundamental right of citizens of BiH to claim and re-possess pre-war homes from which, in many cases, they were forced to flee during the war. These homes were damaged or destroyed as a result of the conflict and require reconstruction assistance to provide returning households with habitable housing. In recent years, improvements in the conditions for minority returnees in their pre-war communities have led to numerous 'spontaneous' returns. These people often camp out, living in temporary sheds, ruined houses or accommodation provided by neighbours while waiting for assistance.
In 2004, UMCOR BiH implemented two major relief and reconstruction projects for return, funded by the Dutch Government and USAID, which provided housing repairs and reconstruction assistance for a total of 139 housing units, enabling the return of 139 households and more than 500 individual beneficiaries. Most of the returnees had been displaced internally in BiH since the war and returned to their pre-war homes in areas where they constitute ethnic minorities.
||No. of houses
||No. of beneficiaries
||596,700 KM / US$ 390,000
||Srebrenica, Bratunac and Vlasenica
||1,954,395 KM / Euros 999,266
Dutch Government Srebrenica, Bratunac and Vlasenica 1,954,395 KM / Euros 999,266 100 325
In 2005, UMCOR BiH will be completing the implementation of these two major relief and reconstruction projects started in 2004 funded by USAID and the Dutch Government. Also, UMCOR BiH is currently implementing one relief and reconstruction project, funded by the Dutch Government, which will provide housing repairs and reconstruction assistance for a total of 50 housing units, enabling the return of 50 households and more than 150 individual beneficiaries. Complimentary infrastructure repair activities will be implemented to ensure that households have access to water, electricity and functional roads where feasible. Additionally, UNDP Srebrenica Regional Recovery Program will assess beneficiaries according to established criteria and establish up to 10 "pilot" dairy farms to support economic development of selected project beneficiaries to support their sustainable return.
||No. of houses
||No. of beneficiaries
||Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica, Han Pijesak, Milici, Sekovici, Zvornik and Osmaci
||1,029,416 KM / Euros 526,332
As one of the leading shelter reconstruction and infrastructure rehabilitation agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UMCOR BiH has received more than US$ 92 million in funding since 1993. Through the generous support of its donors, UMCOR BiH has facilitated the return of over 28,000 families through the reconstruction of houses, schools and dozens of health facilities, bridges and municipal buildings. UMCOR BiH's infrastructure rehabilitation activities have included the repair of over 100 kilometers of power lines and street lighting and water and sanitation systems, as well as support for town maintenance activities such as rubbish collection. All of these activities have enhanced the safety and efficiency of local communities, as well as provided permanent housing solutions for over 66,000 people, thereby encouraging a greater number of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes.
UMCOR uses two methods of reconstruction, 'self-help' and the use of external contractors for beneficiaries not physically able to reconstruct their houses themselves, otherwise known as 'Extremely Vulnerable Cases'. With the 'self-help' method, beneficiaries receive building materials and partial payments for skilled labor. They organise the reconstruction of their housing units themselves with technical advice and supervision from UMCOR staff. The technique has proven highly successful as it involves beneficiary participation, self-reliance and personal accountability, which increase beneficiary 'ownership' of the return process. Beneficiaries are more likely to remain in their pre-war communities on a long-term basis if they feel a sense of 'ownership' of the project, developed through their efforts to rebuild their own homes.
As such relief projects target particularly vulnerable returnees in rural areas with little or no infrastructure, it is often necessary to provide road reconstruction to allow access to building sites. Many houses have no electricity or running water; where appropriate, UMCOR facilitated the connection of housing units to the water and electricity supplies.
UMCOR continues to see a need for reconstruction projects for returnees in BiH and will be working in 2005 to implement the existing projects with greater involvement by the governments of BiH and Municipal Return Commissions, which have assumed coordinating responsibility following the close of the OHR and UNHCR-chaired Return and Reconstruction Taskforce (RRTF).
In 2003, UMCOR BiH completed four major relief and
reconstruction programs, funded by the Dutch
Government and BPRM, which provided housing repairs and
reconstruction assistance for a total of 457 housing
units, enabling the return of 461 households and more
than 1500 individual beneficiaries. In addition, 132 of
these beneficiaries received agriculture and income
generation assistance to enable them to access a source
of revenue for themselves and their families and to
ensure sustainable returns. Most of the returnees had
been displaced internally in BiH since the war and
returned to their pre-war homes in areas where they
constitute ethnic minorities.
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Monetization proceeds were used to provide
beneficiaries, such as Sabrija Mutapcic from Meremislje
in Visegrad Municipality, with building
materials to enable them to reconstruct their barns.
The Monetization Program is a series of assistance
projects supported by the sale of agriculture
commodities which are donated by
USDA through its 'Food for Progress' Programs. UMCOR
has served as the lead agency for
a consortium of NGOs since 1997.
UMCOR is responsible for the sale of commodities such as
vegetable oil, wheat grain or soybean meal on local
markets. Not only do the commodities introduce food
stuffs onto a market where food deficits may exist, they
also contribute towards the generation of new jobs. As
the unemployment rate in BiH is currently running at an
estimated 40%, this by-product of the monetization
program has a positive effect on the economy. The
proceeds generated by the sales are distributed equally
between consortium members, including UMCOR, in order to
implement sustainable community-driven development
programs. Over the past four years, monetization
proceeds have been used to fund more than 100
agriculture and community development projects, mainly
in rural areas of BiH.
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Updated May 2006