Cross-Boundary Minority Returns»
Integrated Direct Assistance»
At the end of June 2005, UMCOR NGO closed its mission in Kosovo after almost six years of work with disadvantaged groups across the UN-administered province.
UMCOR began relief work in Macedonia in May 1999, providing humanitarian assistance to
refugees who fled the conflict in Kosovo. In July, immediately after the air strikes, UMCOR moved into the province of Kosovo and established relief operations under the Action by Churches Together (ACT) umbrella. While UMCOR initially focused on the provision of emergency relief, it later made a transition to longer-term development assistance. UMCOR programs in Kosovo were developed with the aim of contributing to its peaceful and democratic development, including:
(1) facilitation of minority returns; (2) reconstruction; (3) provision of assistance to victims
of trafficking; and (4) promotion of integrated direct assistance in income generation, agriculture, shelter rehabilitation and social and community development.
One of the common themes that ran through all of UMCOR's programs in Kosovo was peace and
reconciliation between the Albanian majority and Serbian, Ashkalia, and Roma minority ethnic groups.
Emphasis was also placed on building the capacity of local groups and organizations (such as youth groups, microfinance organizations, and agricultural cooperatives) to independently meet the needs of their
own communities through skills training, technical assistance and mentoring.
UMCOR However, by the beginning of 2005 it was clear that UMCOR's role in Kosovo was coming to an end as increasingly the provisional institutions of self-government (PISG) and local civil society groups were more and more able on take on the burden of development projects themselves. UMCOR-NGO therefore took a strategic decision to leave Kosovo, handing over certain activities to local groups, and to concentrate its activities elsewhere.
UMCOR assistance supported the return of minority families to
Kosovo by providing income generation opportunities. This family returned to
Vushtrri/Vucitrn and received UMCOR assistance in the form of chickens.
In June 1999, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1244 which called for
the "safe and unimpeded return home for all refugees and displaced persons". As of 2002, UNHCR estimated that there were over 230,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosovo accommodated in Serbia and
Montenegro. While comparatively few of these minorities have been able to return to their former homes,
improvements in conditions in Kosovo, including reduced inter-ethnic tensions and increased political and economic stability, are encouraging more minority families to consider returning. To facilitate the minority returns process, UMCOR implemented programs that provided information to minority families
to assist them in making an informed decision on whether to return while providing direct assistance to those who chose to return to their home communities in Kosovo.
The Integrated Cross-Boundary Minority Returns (ICBMR)
Program was implemented by UMCOR field operations in Kosovo and Serbia and Montenegro with
funding from BPRM. The overall goal of UMCOR's ICBMR Program was to facilitate, support and sustain
organized and/or spontaneous minority return to Kosovo. In support of this goal, UMCOR strived to achieve the following objectives through its activities: (1) facilitate the exchange of information between minority IDPs and their original communities in Kosovo; (2) facilitate safe and sustainable return to communities of origin in Kosovo; and (3) provide immediate, integrated and direct assistance to returnees and/or point-of-return communities in Kosovo. While the ICBMR Program facilitates individual cross-boundary return throughout the province, UMCOR also implements
community-based group return projects, such as the Integrated Return and Community Stabilization (IRCS) project for Bablak/Babljak Village. This project provided comprehensive assistance to minority returnees and vulnerable remainee community members, as well as the rehabilitation of public services for the benefit all community members with funding from UNDP.
Following the violent events of March 2004, when riots left many minority residents of Kosovo displaced from their homes, UMCOR acted quickly to provide temporary shelter for those affected in the Mitrovice/a and Vusshtrri/Vucitrn areas. In addition to material assistance and food, UMCOR provided vital psychosocial support to traumatized displaced persons, and facilitated dialogue leading to their eventual return to their homes.
UMCOR was fully involved in the reconstruction effort in Kosovo from the beginning of its work there in 1999, when ethnic-Albanian refugees began returning to the war-ravaged province. Latterly, reconstruction activities were focused on the reconstruction of homes of returning minority displaced persons and on the rebuilding or renovation of facilities such as schools in mixed communities.
These brochures were distributed in various
languages to clinics and public health care
institutions that work with victims of violence
and the treatment of STIs in Kosovo.
Over the past decade, increasing
numbers of women and girls from Eastern Europe have been
brought to the Balkans by international criminal
networks for the purpose of sexual exploitation. These
women and girls have been kidnapped, coerced or tricked
into sex work. They are held in unsanitary conditions in
bars and private homes and are forced to engage in
unprotected sex with clients for little or no payment,
with only a slight chance of escaping the horrible
reality they face.
Starting in July 2000, UMCOR was actively engaged in the provision of direct assistance to international victims of trafficking in Kosovo whilst working towards the prevention of human trafficking through awareness raising activities. This assistance includes the provision of basic medical care, psychosocial support as well as vocational skills training and other activities. To date, over 300 women and girls have benefited from this program. As of November 2003, the program is being implemented by the Center to Protect Victims and Prevent Trafficking in Human Beings (PVPT), UMCOR Kosovo's local partner. In 2002 and 2003, UMCOR expanded its programming within this sector to include awareness raising activities and the provision of reproductive health care to women working in the sex industry. Over 300 women and girls have benefited from this program.
UMCOR closed its work on counter-trafficking in Kosovo by undertaking a final program of capacity-building activities for PVPT and also through a workshop aimed at strengthening the co-operation between government and non-governmental actors in the field of counter-trafficking. This was co-hosted by UMCOR Kosovo with the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo.
Integrated Direct Assistance
Within Kosovo, UMCOR implemented integrated programs in targeted communities. For example, in Mitrovica/Mitrovicë, UMCOR implemented shelter rehabilitation, agriculture and social and community development programs in the same villages. As a result, families within these communities have received a range of assistance that meets needs related to housing, economic livelihood and psychosocial well-being. UMCOR integrated direct assistance programs have targeted the following areas:
Social and Community Development
Updated September 10, 2005