- Policy Considerations
- Operational Plans (Draft)
- Resources Needs
- Delivery Mechanism
Substantial minority return is at the very heart of Dayton. It is the key to the High Representative’s strategy.
That it has not taken place to date is not the responsibility of the International Community: it is the fault of the politicians and officials in BiH and neighbouring countries who continue to actively, persistently, and in some cases violently obstruct it. But it is only the International Community that has the tools to overcome this obstructionism.
The plan offers an operational tool to achieve a breakthrough in minority returns in 1999. If it is implemented successfully then a critical mass and sustainable flow will have been achieved. And more importantly those who have expressed the wish to return will have been enabled to do so, leading the way for others to follow. There is no element of compulsion or persuasion in the plan. It is about creating the conditions to allow individuals to make, and then exercise a choice to return.
The plan is based on realistic and achievable goals and resources. But it is in no way free of pain. If the objectives are to be realised it will require
- Greater political will on the part of the IC collectively than has hitherto been the case: major political obstacles will have to be removed: minority return will truly have to be at the top of the agenda: with the inevitable result that all other issues will move one place down.
- More focused, directed and better co-ordinated activity than has ever been the case.
- A redirection of aid resources; if new money is not available then existing money will have to be reallocated: and the investment in reconciliation and psychological healing must increase.
- An acceptance by all that the plan will have to be driven, and the financial resources and management authority given to drive it and finally
- Commitment – from all concerned
These five requirements are inseparable: if any one is missing the plan will fail.
P. A. Bearpark
2.1 More than 140,000 refugees and displaced persons returned in 1998, of which some 100,000 were refugees from abroad (mainly from Germany). Only about 35,000 of them were minority returns, a figure only slightly higher than that achieved last year. The rest simply added to the mass of internally displaced persons in need of durable solutions.
2.2 This leaves over 375,000 refugees abroad who still lack durable solutions, about half of them in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. More than 860,000 Bosnians remain internally displaced, most of whom would be in the minority if they chose to return to their homes of origin now. According to RRTF estimates, at least 120,000 of these people would be prepared to return at once if conditions were created that would allow them to feel safe and build a future for themselves and future generations. If this quantum leap were made, further returns – possibly in the hundreds of thousands – can be expected over the next 1-3 years. Without the initial push , however, a self-sustaining flow of returns is inconceivable.
2.3 Despite the promises enshrined in Dayton, conditions for minority return do not exist in most parts of the country. The primary reason is an appalling lack of political will on the part of the authorities at all levels. This lack of political will manifests itself in a number of ways, from obstructionism in the passage and implementation of new property laws, to a failure to provide security for returnees and properly investigate crimes against minorities, to clear discrimination in the judicial and public administrative systems. Lack of and unequal access to employment, scarcity of resources and politicization in education policy further undermine minority return. Returns to Croatia remain hampered by continued constraints. Key obstacles outlined in the UNHCR Regional Strategy include the use of media to incite opposition to return or intimidate the displaced not to return; denial of access to public services and fundamental human rights; and the deliberate relocation of returnees or the internally displaced in order to consolidate control and further ethnically-motivated political objectives.
2.4 Experience shows that political interventions and effective use of economic leverage in select target areas can achieve results and create opportunities for minority return. Persistent interventions to address human rights violations and remove administrative and legal obstacles to return are vital as well. The RRTF Action Plan endorsed by the April 1998 Donors Conference outlined these and other key pillars to successful implementation of Annex 7, and they have formed the basis for the RRTF’s work in 1998.
2.5 Building on past experience and carrying on as before will doubtless continue to produce incremental progress in minority return. But there is no reason to expect this approach to produce any more returns next year than it has to date. Indeed, there is every reason to expect that there will be even less political will on the part of the local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support return in 1999 than was the case in 1998. The 1998 general elections confirmed that the majority of voters in this country still vote along ethnic lines. We are not yet at a stage where even the most moderate municipal leaders can support minority return without being concerned about negative feelings of their constituents. Municipal elections will take place in 1999. The result of these elections will have a major impact on the return process.
2.6 The High Representative gave his perspective on the state of peace implementation to the Steering Board and the North Atlantic Council in September and October. He set out his objectives for Annex 7 implementation as follows:
- A significant mass of sustainable minority returns to their pre-war homes achieved in a phased, orderly, and peaceful manner
- A self-sustaining minority return process and significant regional return movements
- The creation of security, economic, social, and legal conditions conducive to voluntary return and harmonious reintegration
- Full and effective exercise of property rights of all pre-war residents
- Managed integration of displaced persons and refugees who choose to relocate based on a free and informed choice, in order to avoid violation of the property rights and right to return of others
2.8 Ultimately the decision on how to proceed with minority return in 1999 is about achieving stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina , and about making a decisive effort to put in place enabling conditions for return that can sustain future spontaneous movements. In a very immediate human sense, it also about supporting the urgent wish to return of people who are prepared to take personal risks to go home in defiance of nationalist myths.
2.9 This plan offers the 100% commitment scenario – setting out the policy considerations and operational requirements for achieving a breakthrough in 1999.
3. Policy Considerations3.1 The realisation of a break-through in minority returns in 1998 depends critically on three factors, all political by nature:
- Space ( generating space for people to return to )
- Security ( for individual returnees ) and
- Sustainability ( making it possible for returnees to build a future in their home areas ).
The Space Problem
3.3 Most habitable accommodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is presently occupied (legally or illegally). Achieving substantial returns will therefore depend on generating vacant housing space – the fast track solution – and resolving property disputes related to occupied apartments and houses. This latter process will be time consuming and painful, as it involves contested rather than vacant space and forces people to move, sometimes into inferior accommodation.
Generating Vacant Space
3.4 Vacant housing stock can be generated in six ways, all of which will be pursued simultaneously:
3.4.1. Reconstruction of destroyed dwellings, focusing on the RRTF’s priority axes of return (see section 4, infra).
Action: Grant aid will be required in the same or a slighter greater order of magnitude as 1998, since most internally displaced persons lack resources and future earning prospects that would make them eligible for credit. The European Commission’s continued emphasis on integrated programmes with a housing component will be key to achieving sustainable return into viable communities. Tripartite contracts and improved monitoring are necessary to ensure that return to reconstructed dwellings actually takes place.
3.4.2. Elimination of illegal and multiple occupancy in key urban areas through improved property management systems and international monitoring. During the war, there was a tendency for urban populations to “spread out” across the available housing stock. Furthermore, rural populations, both displaced persons and others, not directly affected by the war, have moved into urban centres occupying minority property. This practice cannot be permitted now that housing is scarce and property claims are being filed in the tens of thousands; the right to return must be respected.
Action: The OHR will press for strengthened housing regulations to combat abuse and corruption. The OHR will contract a team of external auditors and experts, working with the CRPC and other relevant RRTF actors, starting in January 1999, to review the housing management systems in Sarajevo, Mostar, and Banja Luka, and make recommendations for how to rationalise existing housing space and implement more effective operating procedures. The authorities must grant these teams full access to all housing records. All multiple occupancy cases shall be resolved without delay. Multiple occupant are defined as individuals or families inhabiting contested housing space when they or a member of their pre-war household are in possession of the housing unit in which they lived before the war or in lawful possession of other habitable property. [Working definition].
3.4.3. Limited, internationally sponsored and managed, construction of buffer accommodation of a temporary nature in over-crowded urban areas where the RRTF assesses a genuine need for this type of accommodation (e.g. to resolve the situation of “floaters”1 and allow for a phasing out of collective centres).
Action: Donors follow RRTF guidance with respect to investments in buffer accommodation to ensure that priority needs are targeted and the temporary nature of these structures is guaranteed (e.g. through the implementing agency maintaining management control).
3.4.4. Accelerated return to Croatia, as a means to free up space in western RS and as part of an overall effort to generate sustainable cross border return between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Action: The RRTF and the RFG will strengthen their co-operation at the field level, under the general guidance of the UNHCR Regional Strategy and this Plan. RRTF is to monitor that houses left vacant are not used as second accommodation nor for hostile relocation. Donors will fund priority cross-border axes and apply conditionality in their assistance to both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to remove obstacles to cross-border return, including lack of access to travel documents. UNHCR will expand its bus line service along key cross-border axes; IOM will apply its logistics expertise to accelerate cross-border movements; and Croatia must relax its normal documentation requirements for this form of travel.
3.4.5. Managed implementation of the June 1998 Amendment of the RS Law on Building Land such that displaced persons who will be evicted as a result of return of the pre-war occupant will be the primary beneficiaries. The June amendment allows the RS Government to allocate land and provide building materials to displaced persons free of charge. No international assistance shall be given for housing construction as part of this scheme, except where conditions apply for buffer accommodation, (see point 3.4.3, supra).
Action: The OHR will insist on key amendments to the Instruction on implementation of the June Amendment to achieve this goal. The RRTF will monitor implementation.
3.4.6. Reform of the property market and the institutional and legal framework for real estate transactions in Bosnia and Herzegovina to bring them into line with European standards and expand the options available to refugees and displaced persons to exercise their property rights. Currently, the property registration systems are not functioning effectively and most real estate transactions are extra-legal.
Action The RRTF will contract a team of experts, led by a USAID consultant, to conduct a study on reform of the BiH property market. The study will focus on ways of facilitating return to pre-war homes as the preferred durable solution, but will also examine how the property market can be reformed to accomplish more efficient use of housing space. The study should also examine the merits of establishing a ‘property fund’, as stipulated in Annex 7 of the GFAP. The recommendations from this study will be presented to the Steering Board in February 1999, and a concrete reform package presented to the 1999 Donors Conference.
Returns to Contested Space
3.6 While investing in expanding the housing stock space is the fastest “track” to return, full implementation of Annex 7 requires attention also to the problem of contested space.
3.7 The following reforms in the legal and administrative framework concerning property are required to facilitate returns to contested space:
Action: OHR, in co-operation with UNHCR, CRPC and others, will compile a list of reforms needed in the Federation’s legal framework and administrative practices related to implementation of the new property laws, to remove existing injustices and loopholes. Continuing pressure will be applied to ensure that claims are resolved and decisions enforced. The suspension of Article 3(6) of the Law on Cessation of Application of the Law on Abandoned Apartments, and moratorium on sale of apartments to persons who acquired their occupancy right after 30 April 1991, will remain in place to ensure this process goes ahead. The military and police in all parts of the country will be required to cede control over military and police apartments and the related property records to the appropriate civilian authorities. The High Representative will ensure that the new property law passed by the Republika Srpska National Assembly on 2 December is implemented in a manner consistent with GFAP and amended, if necessary, adequately to protect returnees’ rights. This Law is very similar to the legislation which came into force in the Federation earlier in 1998. The inter-agency Property Sub-Committee will co-ordinate the monitoring of property affairs in both Entities, with substantial involvement of OSCE and UNHCR, especially at the field level. Questions of restitution will be addressed in the context of privatisation.
3.7.2 The right of current occupants of property to alternative accommodation must be clarified, so that evictions can proceed as necessary to facilitate return. Rights to alternative accommodation should be limited to those with genuine housing needs and to cases referred to by the law. Shortage of alternative accommodation should not be used as an excuse to delay the return process.
Action: The OHR and UNHCR, through the Property Sub-Committee (OHR/HRCC, CRPC, OSCE, UNHCR, and UNMIBH), will propose ways of clarifying the right to alternative accommodation in the property laws and displaced person and refugee laws in both Entities, with a view to expediting implementation of both sets of laws. This will involve introducing a proper legal framework for secondary allocation of housing units to which the pre-war occupants do not intend to return. OHR, with UNHCR, OSCE, and SFOR, will develop a media campaign to counter likely criticism that the IC is “throwing people into the street.”
3.7.3 Transparent and effective bailiff institutions must be created with international support and supervision in both entities.
Action: UNMIBH, with the OHR and the Property Sub-Committee, will produce a strategy during January and February 1999 for how to strengthen and, where necessary, establish effective bailiffs’ institutions to ensure that scheduled evictions are carried out. Implementation of this strategy will take place in phases, starting in Sarajevo, Mostar, and Banja Luka in March.
3.7.4 A fast-track transparent administrative procedure must be created in both entities for cases of apartments which, although they were never declared abandoned, have still been taken over illegal occupants. These apartments are not covered by the new property laws, and the pre-war occupancy right holders face a range of obstacles in pushing their cases through the courts.
Action: the Property Sub-Committee will propose a fast-track procedure to the Federation and RS Ministries Governments, for final consultation and implementation through amendments to the relevant laws.
3.7.5 CRPC claims collection must be extended to all parts of the RS, the FRY and Croatia and the speed of decision making accelerated. CRPC needs to be strengthened and its outreach capacity improved to achieve these aims.
Action: To provide the requisite support and legal basis to increase the rate of returns in 1999 to pre-war homes, CRPC will ensure that the work and management systems are in place to meet the expanded challenges in 1999. Appropriate expert advice will be sought on how to improve the funding situation of the CRPC; how to expand its outreach to potential claimants; and how to strengthened its overall institutional capacity. The CPRC’s core donors will support implementation of these recommendations and provide funding for CRPC in 1999 at the level of its appeal budget. CRPC with the support of OHR will seek to increase the effectiveness of its decisions, through the development of an improved legal framework for enforcement, and advocacy on behalf of claimants.
3.7.6 An effective information campaign must be mounted to make sure that refugees and displaced persons in BiH and abroad are fully informed of their rights under property legislation. Active campaigns to combat misinformation, which aims to spread fear and distrust between returnees and the receiving communities, are essential to supporting the return process.
Action: IOM, UNHCR, OSCE, the Return Facilitation Group and the German Government and others will play a crucial role in dissemination of appropriate information to refugees. RRTF members will agree on a shared budget by the end of 1998 for this property information campaign See Annex 1 for further detail.
The Security Question
3.8 Individual security remains a key factor in displaced persons’ decisions on whether to return to areas where they would be in the minority.
3.9 Overall responsibility for the personal security of individual citizens rests with civilian law enforcement agencies. While there has been some progress toward developing a local police force in BiH which is sensitive to the needs of returnees, many political and financial obstacles remain, particularly in the RS where police restructuring and reform has barely begun. A common problem throughout BiH is the lack of minority police officers, which DPs and refugees report is an essential element in their decision to return to a secure environment. The public security gap between the “area” security provided by SFOR and the individual security needs of returnees, will therefore have to be bridged by other means if a break-through in minority returns are to be achieved in 1999.
3.10 The RRTF’s strategy for bridging the security gap involves a two-track approach of (a) supporting UNMIBH and other agencies in their efforts to develop a multi-ethnic and professional police force, and (b) working with SFOR to provide a minimum security framework for individual return movements that can compensate for the short-comings of local institutions, while UNMIBH works with the local police to build their capacity to provide return-related security and to recruit minority police officers. In practice, this means:
3.10.1 Implementing the “UNMIBH Strategy for Minority Police Recruitment and Return”, which was endorsed by the RRTF in September 1998;
Action: UNMIBH, together with the RRTF, will identify priority areas where the deployment of minority police would support priority return axes for 1999. RRTFs will assist in identifying potential minority police officers living abroad and in BiH by reaching out to DP communities and providing them with an official IPTF application form to join the local police. All applications will be submitted directly to UNMIBH which will lead in the recruitment, selection, training and certification of local police officers. Donor support is critical to provide the training and equipment necessary to modernise the police force and enable it to provide professional service to all BiH citizens including minority communities (such as cars, communication and investigation equipment); to reconstruct multi-ethnic, professional local police stations; and to provide return incentives to potential minority police families, most importantly housing reconstruction assistance. The RRTF, in cooperation with donors and UNMIBH, will design and implement projects to re-train and employ police officers who may become unemployed as a result of police restructuring in both entities, thus preventing the addition of a potential source of social tension in BiH. Donor and RRTF support in developing and funding an active media campaign to recruit minority police is also necessary. The UN Trust Fund for the Police Assistance Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina provides an efficient mechanism to disseminate donations where they can effectively build a professional local police force; bilateral donations should be co-ordinated with UNMIBH to prevent project redundancy.
3.10.2 Working with receiving communities on prevention/early warning on security incidents.
Action: RRTF will notify local authorities on return movements in advance, whenever appropriate. Where full agreement proves impossible, the RRTF will analyse the repercussions and advise the High Representative on the potential need for legal action or sanctions. The RRTF will work with public figures at the municipal level, including Mayors, to use local media to condemn acts of intimidation or violence after they occur, or to attempt to calm any potentially volatile situations. UNMIBH will support RRTF initiatives through UNMIBH’s work with the local police, particularly with Chiefs of Police and Interior Ministers when necessary. USAID/OTI and OSCE will implement projects to encourage and manage dialogue between returnees and receiving communities in return priority areas where this activity is appropriate. They will attempt to identify and resolve conflicts at a grass roots level between the two communities, and to reduce tensions during the return season.
3.10.3 SFOR and UNMIBH will co-operate to identify special patrolling needs for SFOR, and other forms of operational support for return to politically sensitive return areas. UNMIBH will advise the local police on the development of return related security plans for the local police;
Action: UNMIBH will advise the local police on return-related security plans, particularly in advance of returns to politically sensitive areas, to ensure that they provide a secure environment for return. UNMIBH will monitor local police investigation of incidents targeting minorities, giving particular attention to incidents that could have a negative effect on minority return. Within current human resource constraints, UNMIBH will expand its capacity to undertake own investigations where appropriate, especially in cases involving violations of international human rights. UNMIBH and OSCE will monitor court cases on return-related incidents with a view to ensuring proportionality between the crimes committed, the charges pressed, and the sentences eventually imposed. International organisations will provide UNMIBH with information on cases of non-cooperation by law enforcement agencies, including housing-related authorities. UNMIBH will provide summaries of return-related non-compliance reports for intervention by appropriate international agencies. The MSUs will be available on standby on request from Regional RRTFs through appropriate channels for deployment by SFOR after consultation with UNMIBH.
The Sustainability Challenge
3.11 Apart from space and security, the most common pre-requisites cited by displaced persons and refugees for their return to places of origin sustainability concerns related to employment, education, health, social services, and impartial local government structures.
3.12 As outlined in the RRTF 1998 Action Plan, intervention and investment in each of these sectors should focus on improving the provision of services for receiving communities, as well as minority residents and returnees. Due consideration will be given to gender issues and to protection and promotion of the rights of children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. There should be a focus on access and integration of minorities in these sectors. In 1998, the linkage between RRTF axes of returns and the provision of these service was poorly developed. Success in 1999 will depend on strengthening this link, mobilising more active involvement of development actors including the World Bank and the UNDP, and improving co-ordination
3.12.1 Employment: The RRTF 1998 Action Plan outlined a comprehensive strategy for employment generation linked to minority return. It included private sector development and emergency measures to alleviate unemployment. In addition, the establishment of an anti-discrimination legal and administrative infrastructure was prescribed, including the need to link aid to businesses to a commitment to respect non-discrimination principles in hiring and employment practices. This strategy needs to be implemented and targeted on RRTF priority axes in 1999 for optimal results. One of the most important forms of leverage the international community has in convincing recalcitrant municipalities to accept return is the promise of economic development and job creation.
Action: Donors will work with the RRTF and ETF to target resources at job creation schemes and private sector development in key minority return destinations, allowing the RRTF to use this promise of aid to gain local authority acceptance of minority return. The ILO is requested to advise on the implementation of international labour law protecting human rights and to take the lead, with OHR support, in ensuring that necessary legislative changes are made. The RRTF will work with relevant actors to devise an appropriate, gender-sensitive employment code to be used in connection with aid to businesses. In Sarajevo, the US government will take more decisive leadership of and – together with the EC and other donors – support the work of the Employment Working Group.
3.12.2 Education: Educational reform is essential to convincing young families to return to minority areas.
Action: The Education PIU is requested, in consultation with UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, to advise upon development needs regarding education in RRTF priority return areas. Its assessment should outline the resources needed to provide adequate education services to receiving communities and returnees (e.g. re/construction, textbooks, computers, staffing, transport, etc.) and advice on interventions required to ensure minority access to educational facilities. On the basis of the above, the donor community will provide funding for RRTF-endorsed projects designed to cover these needs; any interventions that may be required will be carried out by the local RRTFs. The Ad Hoc Education Working Group is requested to develop, with RRTF, a strategy for minority representation within the Ministries of Education in both entities. In Sarajevo, donors will provide resources to the work of the Education Working Group.
3.12.3 Health: Equal access to health care and eligibility for insurance remains a key factor in making return sustainable.
Action: The RRTF will contract out a comprehensive assessment of the health care sector development needs in RRTF priority return destinations. The assessment will outline the resources needed to provide adequate and gender relevant health services to receiving communities and returnees (e.g. re/construction, equipment, staffing, transport, etc.) and recommend interventions to ensure minority access to health facilities. The assessment should also take into account requirements for minority representation in the health and administrative staff in priority return areas. Local RRTFs will assist in project design and implementation, as necessary. Parallel structures should be avoided, and careful consideration given to the viability of investments in remote areas. The donor community will give favourable consideration to these projects. The Health Task Force and the RRTF will develop a strategy for minority representation within the relevant health sector institutions in both entities, including health insurance funds.
3.12.4 Social welfare: Many returnees will be elderly, disabled, single-headed hose-holds or social cases. Pension rights and access to unemployment and other social benefits will be essential to their sustenance.
Action: The Social Policy Task Force and the RRTF will discuss and agree how to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the development needs in the arena of social welfare in RRTF priority return areas and determine the remedies required. The assessment will outline the resources needed to provide adequate social welfare services to receiving communities and returnees. This will include the needs of women, children, pensioners, handicapped, war invalids, unemployed, returnees and displaced persons / refugees, etc.. The assessment will also recommend interventions to ensure minority access to social welfare facilities and representation among their staff. Local RRTFs will assist in project design and implementation, as necessary. The donor community must undertake to address the resources needed to ensure that an adequate safety net exists for these vulnerable groups. As stipulated in the UNHCR’s Regional Strategy, a regional agreement or, at the least, compatible and equitable linked bilateral agreements on pensions, veterans benefits, and documentation issues should be concluded. The Social Policy Task Force is requested to monitor minority representation among staff within social welfare institutions at the Entity and local levels and, if necessary, develop, with the RRTF, a strategy for minority representation in these institutions.
3.12.5 Government structures: Representative municipal governance is a key factor in making returnees feel and become part of the local community. Increased efficiency and transparency in local government will benefit all residents.
Action: The OSCE, working with the RRTF, will accelerate its efforts to secure the return of municipal councillors, with priority attention given to key return destinations. Donors will provide necessary funding for housing reconstruction, where necessary to realise this return. UNHCR and OSCE will assist priority return municipalities to improve their governance techniques in 1999. Under the leadership of OSCE, the OHR, and the World Bank, the RRTF will devote particular attention to enhancing the efficiency of municipal administration. Recommendations to donors concerning initial resource needs will be complete before Spring 1999. Donors commit to respond favourably to these needs. OSCE will make recommendations by Spring 1999 about needs for minority representation within the municipal administration and executive. These needs will be addressed through local RRTF intervention.
3.12.6 Judiciary: The judiciary is the back bone of a democratic society and must be multiethnic. A fair and independent administration of justice is one of the long term priority issues which need to be addressed in 1999.
Action: The RRTF will support UNJSAP efforts when required. RRTF in agreement with other relevant agencies and under the supervision of OHR will negotiate the introduction of minority members in the judiciary in areas where return has taken or is expected to take place. Relevant national institutions, including the courts, the Human Rights Commission, and the Federation and RS Ombudsmen should be strengthened and developed.
4. Operational Plans – WORKING DRAFT
|4.1. The RRTF’s operational plans are based on the following principles: |
MAPS: Axes and OHR-RRTF Office Locations
NORTH WEST / POSAVINA
4.2 The North West RRTF region covers the western part of the RS, the Una Sana Canton (Canton 1), the Northern parts of Canton 10 comprising Drvar, Glamoc and Grahovo and the Posavina municipalities of Derventa, Brod, Odzak, Vukosavlje, Modrica and Samac. As much of the displacement took place within the NW itself – for example Prijedor-Sanski Most, Prnjavor/Derventa-Petrovac/Grahovo – priority axes for minority return are largely contained within the AOR of the NW RRTF. In addition an estimated 80,000 refugees from Croatia live in Western RS. These people came mainly as a result of Croatian military operations in May and August 1995. As a result of this movement an additional number of non-Serbs became displaced.
4.3 Despite a disappointing lack of genuine commitment on the part of the Republika Srpska government to support return during 1998, progress has taken place in a number of areas in the Anvil (some 1,000), in Gradiska (approximately 500) and in Kotor Varos (more than 100 heads of household have started to repair their houses in Siprage and intend to bring their families in spring). The EC DG1A 1998 programme provided an essential framework for initial reconstruction activities in the NW area to support minority return. The attacks on minority returnees and the international community in Drvar in April were a serious setback to the return process there; returns are slowly starting again, however, mainly to outlying villages.
4.4 The Banja Luka Conference, in April 1998, brought together many of the key political figures (both national and international) to promote minority return in the North West of BiH and in Croatia, and brought the issue of Croatian Serbs back onto a wider international political agenda. Cooperation between the RRTF and the Return Facilitation Group in Croatia is expected to accelerate cross-border returns significantly in 1999.
4.5 The aim for 1999 will be to accelerate returns in areas where groundwork has been started in 1997 and 1998. In addition increased effort will be invested in the Posavina region as that area has a potential for minority return but has suffered from a lack of international attention. The Anvil municipalities (Sipovo, Mrkonjic Grad) will, due to improvements in the political situation there allowing for self-sustaining return, need the attention of more development oriented agencies such as UNDP and the World Bank. Cross border return to and from Croatia and FRY will be a particular challenge. The below priority axes may be revised during the course of the return season to reflect changes in dynamics on the ground.
4.6 Priority axes: In 1999, the NW RRTF will concentrate on the key axes outlined below. These axes have been prioritised on the basis of:
- Return potential: supporting a substantial number of DPs/refugees wishing to return.
- Political significance: opening up areas of strategic importance for minority return, particularly Republika Srpska.
- Space: focusing on returns from/within urban areas to reduce overcrowding and to facilitate minority returns into currently occupied private and socially owned housing. i.e. Banja Luka, Sanski Most, Derventa and Gradacac.
|NW/ POSAVINA Priority Return Axes|
|AXIS||Expected no. 1998||Expected no. 1999|
|AXIS 1: Western RS / Grahovo / Glamoc / Drvar / Central BiH / Sar||6500 projected returns|
|Western RS => Grahovo||700 S||2000 S|
|Western RS / Central BiH => Glamoc||240 |
(210 B, 30 S)
(1000 B, 500 S)
|Western RS => Drvar||1570 S||2000 S|
|Drvar / Glamoc => Central BiH/Sarajevo*||50 C||500 C|
|Drvar / Glamoc => Western RS||0||500 C|
|AXIS 2: Prijedor / Novi / Sanski Most / Krupa / Kljuc Croatia||5500 projected returns|
|Sanski Most / Croatia => Prijedor||50 (30 C, 20 B)||2000|
(1500 B, 500 C)
|Sanski Most => Novi||10 B||1000 B|
|Western RS / Croatia => Sanski Most||200 |
(185 S, 15 C)
(700 S, 300 C)
|Western RS => Krupa||25 S||750 S|
|Western RS => Kljuc||20 S||750 S|
|AXIS 3: Prnjavor/Petrovac/Derventa/ Brod/Croatia||7000 projected returns|
|Petrovac / Croatia => Prnjavor||130 (80 B, 30 C)||500 B|
|Derventa / Prnjavor => Petrovac||250 S||4000 S|
|Croatia / Central BiH/ 3rd country => Derventa||100 B/C||1500|
(1000 C, 500 B)
|Croatia / 3rd country => Brod||60 B/C||1000|
(500 B, 500 C)
|AXIS 4: Banja Luka / Gradiska / Croatia / Petrovac / Sanski Most||11,000 projected returns|
|Croatia / Sanski Most => Banja Luka||250 |
(150 B, 100 C)
(2000 B,1000 C)
|Croatia / Petrovac => Gradiska||600 B||1000|
(800 B, 200 C)
|Western RS => Croatia cross border connection||50 S||7000 S|
|AXIS 5: Croatia / Gradacac / Modrica / Vukosavlje / Odzak||3000 projected returns|
|3rd country / Croatia / Gradacac => Modrica||0||1500|
(1000 B, 500 C)
|3rd country / Croatia / Gradacac => Vukosavlje||0||1000 B|
|Modrica / Vukosavlje => Odzak||80 S||500 S|
(1,135 B, 2,910 S, 340 C)
(18,200 S, 9,800 B, 5,000 C)
1. Note that in addition to the above, returns will take place outside of the priority axes these 500 also appear within Priority Axes 2, 4 and 9 in Central Bosnia Region, which also address Bosnian Croat return into Central Bosnia from Drvar and other areas. The resulting overlap of 500 potential returnees has been subtracted from the total expected returns for 1999 to Central Bosnia.
4.7 RRTF Operational Support:
4.7.1. For the OHR/RRTF structure: The current NW Regional RRTF network includes a number of local RRTF structures (LRRTFs) that have been created as a result of the identification of the axes (these main LRRTFs are listed below but ad hoc coordination forums also exist for Bihac and Kotor Varos). The LRRTFs are to a large extent managed by UNHCR and OHR together, in the case of OHR-RRTF from the regional office in Banja Luka with the assistance of two “satellite offices” in Prijedor and Derventa.
- LRRTF Grahovo / Glamoc / Drvar
- LRRTF Prijedor / Sanski Most / Novi
- LRRTF Greater Banja Luka
- LRRTF Posavina
- LRRTF Kljuc / Ribnik
- LRRTF Petrovac
- LRRTF Krupa
The additional resources required for OHR-RRTF to support these projected minority returns in 1999 through the RRTF structure include an OHR representation in Una-Sana Canton (Bihac) to provide political support (this would be an OHR resource not specific to RRTF), an RRTF officer devoted to the Petrovac / Prnjavor / Derventa axis and RRTF-staff resources in Drvar to support the Drvar / Glamoc / Grahovo axis. As with the other regions, staff resources will need to be dedicated to public information initiatives to promote minority return.
4.7.2. From other RRTF agencies: UNHCR, SFOR, IPTF, OSCE Human Rights and Democratisation, and IMG must have one officer dedicated to each axis, at least on a part time basis. ARFGs in Croatia will dedicate staff to each cross-border axis.
4.8 The Southern RRTF region covers Federation Cantons 7 and 8, along with the southern half of Canton 10, and 6 municipalities in Eastern Herzegovina (Republika Srpska). Canton 8 is and was a Bosnian Croat majority canton. Canton 7 is mixed but with displaced Bosniaks having moved into Bosniak municipalities such as Jablanica and Konjic and into the east Mostar municipalities; Bosnian Serbs have generally moved into the Republika Srpska and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the Eastern Herzegovina (Republika Srpska) municipalities Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks have been displaced either as refugees or are in Cantons 7 and 8. In 1998, the return process accelerated beyond all expectations and overtook the provision of resources, resulting in a 1998 funding gap of approximately 40 million DEM for housing and infrastructure (electricity and water) for returns that have already taken place into the region. Many returnees are likely to spend the winter in sparse conditions, returning to their “DP residence” now the weather has closed in.
4.9 The vast majority of returns in 1998 were high profile group returns of Bosniaks into unoccupied damaged housing in Bosnian Croat majority areas. A few individual Bosnian Croat returns to Konjic have taken place. Returns into Eastern Republika Srpska have been negligible, although in recent months assessment visits to the Republika Srpska by both Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats have increased. Return of Bosnian Serbs to Mostar has been modest in number, but is a very positive development and an indication that the RS leadership does not have a total hold over their people.
4.10 However, the lack of administrative integration and the continuing existence of parallel structures (Bosnian Croat and Bosniak) not only serve to hinder returns, but also ensure that returns remain only ‘partial’ – returnees for the present are inclined to keep a presence in their municipality of displacement, thereby failing to free up housing for return by the pre-war occupant. Administrative integration of these minority returnees into receiving municipalities, and the long-term sustainability of the returns are crucial. Both require political will on the part of receiving authorities and material support by the IC. The provision of ID cards, access to utilities, re-activation of self-sufficiency agriculture, and access to education, health facilities and employment, all require urgent attention.
4.11 In 1999, Bosniaks are expected to return at an even faster pace than in 1998, with a political aim of moving onto returns into currently occupied private and socially owned housing. They will most likely attempt to do this irrespective of the status and implementation of the property laws, concentrating to some extent on “politically” sensitive areas. Security problems must be expected. The first group of returns to Eastern Herzegovina by Bosniaks is already planned for early 1999. The Bosniak authorities are expected to place greater emphasis on the need for administrative re-integration and long-term sustainability for their returnees. Likewise they will expect that the international community deals in a firm manner with non-compliance by Bosnian Croat authorities in the implementation of laws and directives by the High Representative.
4.12 Bosnian Serb returns, like those of Bosniaks in 1999, are likely to proceed even without prior reassurances of reconstruction assistance for returns into unoccupied damaged housing. In addition to covering the existing shortfall from 1998, it is critical that donors support all projected return movements in a timely manner, to prevent increased instability in the region, and any reversal in the returns process.
4.13 Bosnian Croats are expected to continue to construct settlements in the Neretva valley as incentives to relocation versus return. Meanwhile, Bosniak authorities in Mostar are beginning to place priority on the vacation of Bosnian Croat houses to put the HDZ under direct pressure. The line of the Bosnian Croat political leadership, who continue to intimidate those who express a wish to return, is one of obstruction and raising of preconditions. Reciprocity of return is a common pre-condition, along with the building of Bosnian Croat settlements so as not to reverse the post-war political balance in key municipalities.
4.14 Priority Axes: In 1999, the Southern Region RRTF will concentrate on the key axes outlined below. These axes have been prioritised on the basis of:
- Return potential
- supporting a substantial number of DPs/refugees wishing to return.
- supporting potential for two-way returns on certain axes that linking in Central Bosnia Canton, and sustaining in 1999 the high-profile attention they have already received.
- maintaining and consolidating the momentum of returns created in 1998.
- opening up axes into Republika Srpska, particularly in view of the fact that Bosnian Serbs have and continue to return to the Federation.
- Political significance
- achieving a breakthrough in Bosnian Croat returns in the Mostar area, in the context of the current HDZ policy on returns.
- supporting the Bosniak drive to maintain and push new returns, particularly into Bosnian Croat-majority areas, which will provide additional impetus for the break-up of parallel administrative structures in the Federation.
- Space: focusing on returns from/within urban areas to reduce overcrowding and to facilitate minority returns into currently occupied private and socially owned housing e.g Mostar, Stolac and Capljina.
|SOUTHERN Priority Return Axes|
|AXIS||Expected no. |
|AXIS 1: Mostar West => Mostar East||500 C||2,600 C|
|AXIS 2: Bugojno => Prozor-Rama||700 B||3,000 B|
|AXIS 3: Mostar East => Stolac / Capljina / Neum,||7,200 B||3,300 B|
|AXIS 4: Trebinje / Ljubinje / Gacko / Nevesinje / Bileca => Neretva Valley (Mostar, Stolac, Capljina, Ravno)||1,500 S||3,000 S|
|AXIS 5: Stolac / Capljina / Ravno / Neum => Konjic / Jablanica||200 C/S |
|AXIS 6: Neretva Valley (Mostar E/W, Stolac, Capljina) => Trebinje / Ljubinje / Gacko / Nevesinje / Bileca||–||1,500 B|
|AXIS 7: Mostar East => Mostar West||600 B||4,000 B|
|AXIS 8: Central Bosnia / Sarajevo =>|
(8,800 B, 18,200 S, 5,000 C)
(16,000 B, 3,000 S, 4,750 C)
- The above data refers to axes into and within the Southern Region. The SR RRTF is involved with axes out of the region, in conjunction with Central Bosnia RRTF.
- Expected numbers for1998 are based on data on actual returns that have taken place, together with planned movements for the remainder of the year.
- Actual returns do not in some cases include total numbers given in the table, as not all family members have yet returned. We have calculated heads of families as representing the entire family. (1 family = 4 members).
- Expected numbers for 1999 are based on potential caseload, primarily taking into account indications and plans given by Bosniak and Bosnian Serb DP leaders, and well as information from the Cantonal Ministry of Urban Plannin as to planned Bosniak movements for next year. Estimated Bosnian Croat returns figures are based largely on MRO applications, ongoing and planned efforts to vacate Bosnian Croat housing, and continued individual returns.
4.15 RRTF Operational support
4.15.1 For the OHR/RRTF structure: The current Southern RRTF network consists of three LRRTF structures managed from the OHR Regional Office in Mostar:
- LRRTF Mostar/Stolac/Capljina
- LRRTF Konjic/Jablanica/Prozor-Rama
- LRRTF Eastern Hercegovina.
Each LRRTF deals with more than one axis, and focuses on the receiving ends.
For OHR-RRTF to support the minority returns projected for 1999 resources are required for more effective coverage of Canton 8 and the southern part of Canton 10, as well as refugee return to the AOR. As with other regions, an increased emphasis on public information initiatives requires dedicated resources.
4.15.2. From other RRTF agencies: Closer co-operation between the Regional RRTF and Mostar-based staff of donors organisations is needed to improve information sharing on unanticipated returns and resulting funding gaps. The Southern Region is unusual in the extent to which spontaneous returns have taken place in 1998 completely outstripping the ability of the international community to keep pace. The Regional RRTF, within UNHCR, will engage SFOR in identification of requirements for mobilisation of SFOR/MSU resources to support sensitive group return movements, as these will increase significantly in 1999. OSCE Democratisation activities need to be more closely co-ordinated with the LRRTF structure. The sensitivity of public discussions on return issues have been made very apparent in 1998, and must be handled with due caution.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA CENTRAL
4.16 The Bosnia and Herzegovina Central Regional RRTF covers Zenica-Doboj and Central Bosnia Cantons (Cantons 4 and 6 respectively). General features of the displacement in the region are:
- The flight of Bosnian Croats to Bosnian Croat pockets within the region, and to south-west BiH (Cantons 7, 8 and 10) and the Croatian coast, specifically in the area of Makarska;
- Bosniaks displaced from Bosnian Croat pockets in the region and beyond;
- Bosniaks from Western RS and Bosnian Croat dominated areas e.g. Kotor Varos, Jajce, Prozor, becoming DP’s in the region; and
- The flight of Bosnian Serbs to RS and FRY.
4.18 In 1999, support for Cantonal authorities must continue and lend new impetus to the Return Plans. Bosnian Serb returns must formally be included in the Central Bosnia Cantonal Return Plan. Cantonal authorities must also be prevailed upon to give unequivocal support to spontaneous returns. Implementation of property legislation will be vital including the full implementation of reconstruction projects, using lawful evictions as a tool to reinstate beneficiaries. Impediments of a political nature (i.e. split municipalities) must be resolved in 1999.
4.19 Bosnian Croat minority return remains a key strategic objective for 1999: the ratio of displaced persons to pre-war residents continues to be much greater for Bosnian Croats than other nationalities3; and Bosnian Croat returns to Central Bosnia will help counter nationalistic policies discouraging Bosnian Croat return and encouraging relocation in SW Herzegovina.
4.20 A second objective is to create breakthroughs in Bosnian Serb minority returns, for which there is a large potential. Possibilities are opening up for Bosnian Serb returns from the FRY, for example to Bugojno, Donji Vakuf, Jajce and Olovo.
4.21 A third objective will be to enhance preparedness to support spontaneous returns politically and materially, hitherto mainly Bosniak returns.
4.22 Priority Axes: In 1999, BHC Region RRTF will concentrate on the key axes outlined below. A manageable number of axis have been prioritised on the basis of:
- Return potential:
- supporting a substantial number of DPs/refugees wishing to return
- supporting areas where reconstruction assistance alone will boost minority returns significantly, e.g. rural returns to damaged housing.
- Political significance: seeking breakthroughs where they will result in maximal ripple effects, facilitating further minority return.
|BHC Priority Return Axes|
|Expected no. 1998||Expected no. 1999|
|Axis 1: Travnik / Zenica / Brcko => Jajce||3,000 B||3,000 B|
|Axis 2: Drvar / Stolac / Capljina / Prozor-Rama / Livno => Bugojno *||600 C||5,000 C|
|Axis 3: Banja Luka / Brcko / Bijelina / FRY => Bugojno||0||2,000 S|
|Axis 4: Drvar / Stolac / Capljina / Prozor-Rama => Travnik / Novi Travnik *||1,000 C||3,400 C|
|Axis 5: Kotor Varos / Skender Vakuf => Travnik||70 S||1,000 S|
|Axis 6: Gradiska / Banja Luka / Bratunac / Srebrenica / FRY => Donji Vakuf||0||1,000 S|
|Axis 7: SW Herzegovina / Vitez / Busovaca => Zenica||50 C||5,000 C|
|Axis 8: Zenica => Vitez / Busovaca||800 B||1,000 B|
|Axis 9: Drvar / Stolac / Capljina => Kakanj/Vares*||2,000 C||3,000 C|
|Axis 10: Dalmatian Coast / former Sector South => Middle Bosnia||50 C||4,000 C|
|Axis 11: Sokolac => Olovo||0||500 S|
|Axis 12: Fojnica => Kiseljak||150 C |
|SUM:||7,920 (4,000 B, 70 S, 3,850 C)||31,600 – 500* = 31,550 (4,700 B, 5,500 S, 20,900 C)|
4.23 RRTF Operational Support required
4.23.1 For OHR/RRTF: RRTF BHC will retain its current organisational set-up in 1999 with these local RRTFs (LRRTFs) managed from OHR Sarajevo through the Travnik satellite office:
- LRRTF Vrbas Valley
- LRRTF Travnik/Vitez
- LRRTF Kakanj/Vares
- Cross Border LRRTF
The additional resources required by OHR-RRTF to support these projected minority returns in 1999 through the RRTF structure are an additional LRRTF officer/resources to work on axes related to Zenica-Doboj Canton (ZDC). A field office may be added in Zenica or another suitable location in ZDC.
4.23.2. From other RRTF agencies: Co-operation with UN IPTF and SFOR will continue in the following areas: provision of a security environment for contentious returns; information gathering; phasing out cantonment sites which undermine return; and implementing return-related reconstruction. OSCE political support is essential at the municipal level, as is operational support for the return of elected officials in places such as Kakanj, Vares, Jajce, Kiseljak, Zepce. UNMIBH will be relied upon to provide operational support on the return of minority police within the Regional RRTF framework. ECMM will undertake specific information-gathering activities on behalf of the Regional RRTF. Direct contacts between the Regional RRTF and the field staff of RRTF donor members is vital to improve operational effectiveness.
4.24 The Sarajevo Regional RRTF covers Sarajevo and Gorazde Cantons, as well as the territory of Republika Srpska to their east. This area presents two different but intimately related return challenges: first, the need to encourage and accommodate Bosnian Serb minority returns from the Eastern and North-eastern Republika Srpska back to the Sarajevo and Gorazde Cantons; second, to facilitate the return of the largely Bosniak displaced population in Sarajevo and Gorazde to their homes of origin in Eastern Republika Srpska. The RRTF assisted with the first small minority group return to Eastern Republika Srpska, which took place on 19 October, but the area has until now been almost completely closed to return.
4.25 “Unblocking” Eastern Republika Srpska for return is essential to create the Dayton-envisioned unity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The objectives there for 1999 will be to identify and support breakthroughs in minority returns and to facilitate two-way return as well as return from third countries. Discussions have already started with local leaders in Eastern Republika Srpska municipalities, bringing political players from both sides of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL) to the table, to address return and related reconstruction. But the progress made remains fragile.
4.26 The discrepancy between international presence in and aid to Eastern Republika Srpska and the Federation is still enormous. But the recent interest shown by some hard-line authorities in addressing the economic decline of areas under their control affords the international community important leverage. Close donor coordination will be essential to apply such leverage through both positive and negative conditionality.
4.27 For Sarajevo, the Sarajevo Declaration of 3 February set a target of 20,000 minority returns for 1998. It is unlikely that even half that number will have returned as the year draws to a close. The numbers envisioned both in the Sarajevo Declaration and in the priority axes remain a top priority for 1999. Success will depend on substantive improvement in the implementation of Federation property legislation, in the management of property and the elimination of property abuses in the Sarajevo Canton. It will also be conditional on the correct implementation of the property legislation in the RS and on achieving returns to the Eastern Republika Srpska. The unsatisfactory implementation of the property legislation in the Federation is at the moment not only blocking but discouraging a large number of returns of DPs, refugees, and those internally displaced. The recently passed property legislation in the RS should increase the potential for minority return and may force local authorities, as their housing stock comes under greater pressure, to consider supporting return for the first time. However, a consistent and cohesive policy on political interventions both in Sarajevo and Eastern Republika Srpska will be vital to achieve such openings and to support on-going returns.
4.28 Under other Sarajevo Declaration benchmarks, related to the re-integration of minority returnees, much progress still needs to be made with regard to employment policy and opportunities, education, policing and demining.
4.29 Priority Axes: In 1999, the Sarajevo Regional RRTF will concentrate on the key axes outlined below. These axes have been prioritised on the basis of:
- Return potential:
- supporting a substantial number of DPs/refugees wishing to return.
- supporting potential for two-way return along the largest axis: Federation => Eastern Republika Srpska.
- Political significance:
- achieving breakthroughs in eastern Republika Srpska.*
- maintaining and strengthening the inter entity relations established upon the initiative of the international community.
|SARAJEVO Priority Return Axes|
|AXIS||Expected no. 1998||Expected no. 1999|
|Axis 1: Sarajevo => Sokolac||1500 B|
|Axis 2: Sarajevo => Pale||1200 B|
|Axis 3: Sarajevo => Han Pjesak||1200 B|
|Axis 4: Sarajevo / Gorazde => S. Trnovo||150 B|
|Axis 5: Sarajevo / Gorazde => S. Gorazde||1000 B|
|Axis 6: Gorazde => Cajnice||500 B|
|Axis 7 Sarajevo / Gorazde / FRY => Rudo||500 B|
|Axis 8: E-RS / Croatia => Gorazde||150 S||400 S/C|
|Axis 9: FRY => Sarajevo||7,000 S|
|Axis 10: E-RS => Sarajevo||800 S||13,000 S|
(6,050 B, 20,200 S, 200 C)
- Please note: Figures refer to individuals (not families) and are approximate.
- Expected data for 1998 is based on actual returns that have taken place, on projections provided by the Cantonal Ministry for DPs and Refugees and on ongoing housing reconstruction projects for minority return. as well as some negotiations that are ongoing between the international community and local authorities.
- Expected data for 1999 is based on the potential caseload, taking into account indications and plans provided by Bosniak DP leaders, the number of DPs registered for return ( MROs, Cantonal authorities), signed agreements and MoUs with municipal leades, and also reflecting implementation in the near future of prospective housing rehabilitation projects, identified by UNHCR and other donors.
- High figure reflects large potential from the FRY where there are still currently >200,000 refugees from BiH
4.30. RRTF Operational support requirements
For 1999 the existing LRRTF network will be strengthened. A new LRRTF may be established to cover the municipalities of Serb Sarajevo, where DPs from Sarajevo with a high potential for return are currently living. An additional 2-3 new field officers will also be required to ensure effective liaison with Eastern Republika Srpska authorities and to support the activities of the LRRTFs.
Northern LRRTF: Sarajevo – Gorazde Pale, Rudo, Rogatica, Sokolac, Han Pjesak, Srpsko Trnovo.
Southern LRRTF: Sarajevo – Gorazde Kalinovik, Foca, Cajnice, Srpsko Gorazde, Visegrad.
4.30.2 From other RRTF agencies: The implementation of most of the returns foreseen in this plan critically depends on funding availability, especially as little aid has been given to the Eastern Republika Srpska and the needs are considerable. Close donor coordination to extract maximum leverage from funds expended and to make conditionality effective and consistent is equally important. UN IPTF and SFOR will support return along RRTF priority axes, as appropriate and consistent with their mandates. The IMG will play a vital role in identifying funding needs for the priority axes and carrying out technical assessments. OSCE will provide general political support at the municipal level and specifically for return of elected officials. ECMM may be asked to take on specific intelligence gathering.
4.31 The position of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL) in the Brcko area is to be decided by arbitration as outlined by Annex 5 of the Dayton Peace Accords. In February 1997, the Arbitral Tribunal placed the Brcko area under international supervision, to reduce tensions and secure progress in peace implementation, pending a final decision. The arbitral award, to be announced in the first quarter of 1999, will have a major impact on any planning for the Supervisory Area, as it is expected to determine the political control of the area, which will affect the status and security of the displaced population inside and outside Brcko town.
4.32 The pre-war population of the town of Brcko, currently in the Republika Srpska, was approximately 40,000 in 1991, of whom 64% were Bosniak or Bosnian Croat. The majority of those Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats were displaced at the start of the war, from the town to the other side of the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL) and are still living in either in the Federation part of the pre-war Brcko municipality or in the Tuzla-Podrinje Canton. Their pre-war homes are now occupied by some 25 000 Bosnian Serb DPs, who come from all over the Federation but most notably arrived in the summer of 1995 when Jajce fell to the Croatian offensive and then in early 1996 when several thousand Bosnian Serbs came from the Sarajevo suburbs following the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords.
4.33 The majority of those displaced from the area currently in the Republika Srpska wish to return, but the Serb DP population remain publicly against return to the Federation and are privately often hesitant if interested. The supervisory framework in Brcko provided for an accelerated and focused implementation of the peace agreement, and as at November 1998, some 5000 Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats had returned to their homes of origin in the area. Almost all of these returns have been to unoccupied properties which have, in the main, been destroyed or uninhabitable. More than 1,000 homes and infrastructure surrounding them have been rebuilt with international assistance.
4.34 Returns into Brcko town have been minimal, mainly family reunifications, due to the number of DPs living there. Under the international supervision, no evictions are being carried out of DPs legally occupying property that has been declared abandoned, and without available alternative accommodation minority returns to property currently occupied by DPs will only result from a change in policy, improved management of housing stock, the provision of alternative housing, or an increase in the number of Bosnian Serb DPs leaving. The reinstatement of internally displaced minorities remains a priority. Ensuring the long term stability of Brcko’s newly created multi-ethnic administration, police and judiciary, designed to make these returns and a multi-ethnic civic society sustainable in Brcko, remains a key challenge.
4.35 As the outcome of the arbitration remains unknown, this plan will assume for now the maintenance of some degree of status quo, so that the broad 1999 situation will be: a) continuation of Bosniak returns at the same rate; b) continuation of Bosnian Serb returns at an increased rate (but remaining relatively small); and c) an increased rate of Bosnian Croat returns as a result of investment in pre-war majority Bosnian Croat areas. The arbitral award will impact on all of these although a special district decision is likely to have a greater effect on b. and c. above.
4.36 Priority Axes: In 1999, the RRTF structures in Brcko will concentrate on the axes outlined below, pending a final arbitration decision. These axes have been prioritised on the basis of:
- Return potential: supporting a substantial number of DPs/refugees wishing to return, in this case predominantly the majority of the pre-war Bosniak population and part of the pre-war Bosnian Croat population who are seeking to return
- Political significance:
- achieving significant minority return into Brcko RS (which the Interim and Supplemental arbitral awards tasked the Brcko Supervisor to facilitate).
- promoting the politically significant return of Bosnian Serbs to Sarajevo and other parts of the Federation (emphasised in the Supplemental Award of 15 March 1998).
- Space: focusing on returns from/within urban areas to reduce overcrowding and to facilitate minority returns into currently occupied private and socially owned housing i.e. Brcko town.
|BRCKO Priority Return Axes|
|AXIS||Expected No 1998||Expected No 1999*|
|Axis 1: Federal Brcko => RS Brcko||1940 B |
|Axis 2: Orasje => RS Brcko||0||200 C|
|Axis 3: RS Brcko => Federal Brcko||35 S||200 S|
|Axis 4: RS Brcko => Sarajevo||20 S||200 S|
|Axis 5: RS Brcko => Jajce||0||80 S|
|Axis 6: RS Brcko => Celic||120 S||100** S|
|Axis 7: Croatia => RS Brcko |
RS Brcko => Croatia (Croatian Serbs)
|5 C||50 C|
|SUM||2,180 (1940 B, 65 C, 175 S)||4,880 (3000 B, 1250 C, 630 S)|
*Note, again, that all of these figures will depend directly on the Arbitration Decision.
** this overlaps with Tuzla region axis into Lopare.
4.37 RRTF Operational Support required
In 1999, OHR North will have additional RRTF staff resources to monitor and facilitate the return process in and out of the town, specifically the management and tracking of vacated property to ensure secondary return movements.
4.37.1 From other RRTF agencies: A maintained and ideally increased UNHCR presence is essential to the process of Bosnian Serb return out of Brcko. Continued intensive engagement by UN IPTF is needed in community policing and in the training and mentoring of local police (via co-location). The JSAP programme support for the Brcko judiciary is important for progress to be made in judicial reform. MND (N) will continue to address the security concerns and needs of the local population. The continued commitment of donors, specifically for reconstruction and for employment creation in 1999, is required to support new and sustain existing returns.
4.38 The Tuzla Region covers the Tuzla-Podrinje Canton, the north-eastern part of Republika Srpska (from Bijeljina to Srebrenica) and the Doboj “Hub” comprising Doboj, Gracanica, Tesanj, and Teslic. As in the North West RRTF region, the majority of displacement has been within the region: Bosniaks were displaced from the north-eastern Republika Srpska to the Tuzla area, just across the confrontation line which is now the IEBL. While many of the displaced Bosnian Serbs in the northern and eastern reaches of Republika Srpska originate from inside this region (for example there are some 10,000 Bosnian Serb DPs in Bijeljina from Tuzla and Lukavac) there was also a major influx from the Sarajevo region in early 1996 following the hand-over of the Sarajevo suburbs after the signing of the peace agreement.
4.39 Tuzla-Podrinje Canton (TPK) is currently home to more than 140,000 DPs, including 20,000 repatriated refugees, mostly from Germany. The TPK in general and Tuzla in particular house by far the largest number of repatriates from Germany, most of whom are as yet unable to return to their homes of origin in the Republika Srpska and are thus relocatees. Small numbers of Bosnian Serbs have returned to the Open City of Tuzla, but the absorption capacity of the city remains very low due to the large DP and relocatee population, and implementation of the amended Federation property laws remains lax. The 1998 elections in the TPK have again produced a KCD government, albeit with a smaller majority in the Cantonal Assembly.
4.40 The numbers of minority returns to the Tuzla Region to date are small: According to UNHCR Tuzla, for the 20 months between December 1996 to August 1998, 4,900 persons returned to the Federation; 1,133 to the RS; and 1,380 to the ZoS.
4.41 Prospects for returns to the area of Republika Srpska contiguous with TPK remain modest. However, the municipalities of Ugljevik, Zvornik, Doboj (RS), and Osmaci have shown receptivity to minority returns and the current level of cooperation with local authorities is expected to continue in 1999. Prospects for returns to Bratunac are less encouraging; Srebrenica remains the most problematic area of all, a situation that must be tackled in 1999. Discussions to promote returns on a Kladanj-Vlasenica axis have started. Although Sehovici (near Kladanj) had only 2-3% Bosniak population before the war, the Mayor professes to be open to returns. The large number of collective centres remaining in these areas are not only retained as an argument by the Republika Srpska administration as to why minority return cannot yet be their priority but is also indicative of the poverty of living conditions in these areas.
4.42 Minority return to urban centres such as Bijeljina and Doboj will be challenging as well, not just politically but also because the numbers of DPs occupying urban housing space. Genuine over-crowding is often difficult to separate out from abuses in the allocation of housing. The reinstatement of internally displaced minorities (“floaters”) in these towns should remain a priority in 1999.
4.43 Returns to the ZoS around Tuzla in all directions will continue in 1999 – with many of the same problems as before: there is a great need for demining and intensive reconstruction; and considerable potential for tension.
4.44 Priority Axes: In 1999, the Tuzla Regional RRTF will concentrate on the axes outlined below but with the expectation that these may develop and change and the RRTF priorities will be tailored accordingly. These axes have been prioritised on the basis of:
- Return potential:
- supporting a substantial number of DPs/refugees wishing to return, along existing axes and those with known potential * supporting areas where reconstruction assistance alone will boost minority returns significantly, e.g. rural returns to damaged housing.*
- Political significance: seeking breakthroughs in currently politically intransigent RS municipalities *
- Space: focusing on returns from/within urban areas to reduce overcrowding and to facilitate minority returns into currently occupied private and socially owned housing e.g. Doboj, Bijeljina, Tuzla
|TUZLA Priority Return Axes|
|AXIS||Expected no. 1998||Expected no. 1999|
|Axis 1: Doboj => Federation4|
|Fed Doboj => RS Doboj (destroyed ZOS villages including Kapetanovici and Sjenjina)||0||2,000 (B)|
|Doboj City => Federation villages||0||100 (S), 100 (B)|
|Gracanica and other Fed. Villages => Sevarlije and Makljenovac||950 (B)||800|
|Axis 2: Tesanj to Teslic|
|Fed. Villages to Teslic||140 (B)||500 (B)|
|RS Villages to Tesanj||1 (S)||500 (S)|
|Axis 35: Tuzla => Bijeljina / Brcko|
|Tuzla => Bijeljina||200 (B)|
|Tuzla => Brcko||10 (S)||200 (B)|
|Bijeljina => TPK||500 (S)|
|Axis 4: TPK (Sapna, Tuzla, Zivinice) / Ilijas / Glamoc Zavidovici / Kalesija, => Zvornik/Sekovici|
|Zvornik => TPK (Sapna, Tuzla, Zivinice, Kalesija) / Ilijas / Zavidovici||800 S||800 (B/S-400 each way)|
|TPK => Klisa||250 B||400 (B)|
|TPK => Jusici||0||250 (B)|
|TPK => Dugi Dio||0||200 (B)|
|Zivinice, Kalesija, Ilijas, Glamoc => Sekovici||100 (B)|
|Axis 5: Vlasenica => Kladanj6||0||50 (B/S) (25 each way)|
|Axis 6: Vlasenica, Srebrenica, Bratunac => Olovo, Bosanska Krupa, and Donji Vakuf||8 S||250 (S)|
|Axis 7: Celic => Lopare/Koraj|
|Lopare/Koraj => Celic||350 (S)||300 (S)|
|Celic => Lopare/Koraj||60 (B)||300 (B)|
|Axis 8: Lopare / Bijeljina / Ravne Brcko => Celic (another 100 S expected Brcko RS( Celic – see under Brcko region)||600 S||300 (S) / 20 (C)|
(1,400 B, 1,769 S)
(5,475 B, 2,375 S, 20 C)
1. Estimates made in accordance with available information.
- this is using a multiplier of 4 members per one household
4.45 RRTF Operational Support
OHR and UNHCR co-chair the Tuzla Regional RRTF, with a similar arrangement between the two agencies in overseeing the following LRRTFs:
- Doboj LRRTF: Doboj, Teslic, Tesanj, Gracanica.
- Eastern RS LRRTF: Zvornik (of which Klisa is part), Bratunac, Vlasenica and Srebrenica.
- Northern LRRTF: Bijeljina, Lopare and Celic.
4.45.2 From other RRTF agencies: Continued support of NORDPOL brigade (for Doboj) and engagement of MND-N (for Tuzla) is envisaged to provide support for returns by way of assistance with security plans, monitoring of on-the-ground situations, civil affairs support and the contribution of infrastructure/repair resources. The possibilities of increased utilisation of MSU support should be explored. Direct contacts between the Regional RRTF and the field staff of RRTF donor members is vital to improved operational effectiveness.
5. Resource needs
5.1 The plan requires more effective coordination between the International Community in BiH than has been the case hitherto. It does not require that anyone surrender their mandate, but it does mean that Agencies should work more closely within their areas of competence, share information more freely, and accept – where appropriate – the direction of the OHR. All individual agencies will also be required to produce supporting plans by the end of Phase 1. The commitment to do this will have to be made at the top level and confirmed by the Madrid PIC.
5.2 Financial resource needs fall into four categories as follows:
5.2.1. RRTF Staff/office costs: In addition to the RRTF costs included in the OHR budget which has already been presented to Steering Board members there is a requirement for a further 2.3 mecu to cover the costs of 20 additional international staff and associated Field Offices. This figure will be reduced if timely and appropriate secondees are made available.
5.2.2. Project Consultancy Services A further 1.8 mecu is required for specific consultancies. The largest of these is the “Information exercise” referred to in Annex 1, which is designed to provide better and more targeted information to displaced persons and receiving communities. Other consultancies will include work on the property market and housing space management.
5.2.3. RRTF Directed Funding Quick disbursing funds are essential to support unanticipated return movements as they take place. Some donors already have these in place. There is, however, a continuing need for a fund under the direct control – but not management – of the RRTF. During 1998 the Netherlands Government made available a fund of DM 1,000,000 for this purpose. To support the 1999 Plan, a fund of DM 10,000,000 will be required. It is proposed that this be funded by a group of donors. Discussions are underway with the World Bank and others on how this should be managed.
5.2.4. Aid Resources
Final figures are not yet available but estimates suggest that approximately 200 million US dollars were allocated by donors in direct support of Return in 1998. It is likely that a further 5 – 600 million US dollars of aid money provided indirect support. If this Plan is to succeed, funding will have to be maintained at that level in 1999, with the addition of perhaps a further 50 million US dollars for projects to expand the housing stock. Detailed estimates will be prepared during Phase 1, and it is proposed that there be a series of negotiations with groups of donors in December/January to ensure that the necessary funding is in place. The coordination structures described in Section 6 will also be used to ensure a re-direction of some existing aid-resources, particularly in relation to economic regeneration and reconciliation activities. Full funding will also be required for all relevant International Agencies and Dayton institutions such as the Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees (CRPC).
6. Delivery MechanismPlan delivery is dependent on a large number of different actors. In addition to the efforts of all levels of government within BiH, it requires an intensified and more focused effort on the part of the International Community. OHR will, in accordance with Annex 10 and the deeply political nature of the return challenge, be the main driver of this Plan.
Annex 7 of the GFAP gives UNHCR a “leading humanitarian role” for coordinating repatriation and relief of refugees and displaced persons. In order to more effectively implement that responsibility, the High Commissioner’s Regional Strategy for Sustainable Return (HIWG/98/2) was endorsed by the Steering Board and the HIWG in June 1998. In November 1998, UNHCR presented a report to the HIWG on progress in 1998 and requirements for 1999 (HIWG/98/9) which supported the approach set out therein. In addition to playing its full role within the RRTF structure under the OHR-RRTF Action Plan, UNHCR will continue specific activities, in particular:
- International protection of returning BiH refugees and displaced and arranging repatriation movements as required
- International protection and assistance for refugees and asylum-seekers in the country
- Assisting in the drafting of laws and legislation which promote and facilitate return and building implementation capacity of responsible authorities
- Monitoring and reporting on return to, within and from BiH
- Negotiating with authorities on behalf of refugee and displaced individuals and families who wish to exercise their right of return to their original homes.
Under the guidance of the High Representative, the OHR-RRTF structure will bear the primary responsibility for plan delivery. The current structure involving a DHR-RRTF’s Office in Sarajevo, supported by a Central Secretariat and Regional structure, will be maintained and expanded. A more rigorous distinction will be made between the functioning of the RRTF at all levels as a “consensual club” and the OHR-RRTF which will become the prime force for improved coordination and field management as well as plan delivery. Under the current structure, RRTF staff frequently perform more than one function and the RRTF structure relies on the expertise and inputs of other members as well as other parts of OHR. This synergy will be maintained and clarified. Revised management arrangements, and delegations of authority, within OHR are required.
Total OHR/RRTF staff numbers are expected to increase from 20 to 45.
The key level for plan coordination and implementation will be the Regional level. Fully functioning RRTF structures already exist in Banja Luka and Mostar. The Tuzla office will be upgraded to the same status. At present the RRTF structure includes Field Offices in Derventa, Drvar, Prijedor and Travnik. It is intended that these be maintained and that further offices be opened. The locations of these offices will be determined during Phase 1 of the plan, but it is intended that several of them should be located in Eastern RS to facilitate the return of people whose homes of origin are in Eastern RS but who have temporarily relocated in the Federation following their return from Western Europe. These Field Offices will be directly managed from the Sarajevo Office until the end of Phase 2 when responsibility will be transferred to the regional Office(s). Given their political significance Sarajevo and Brcko will continue to be managed separately. All Field Offices will be described as OHR-RRTF Offices and will be completely accountable to the OHR. Where appropriate they will, however, draw on the existing resources of other relevant organisations.
Improved information exchange is vital. Weekly summary reports will be prepared and circulated to all RRTF members as well as relevant donors. A system is being developed to enable the key operational agencies to share information on a real-time basis.
The existing relationship between the RRTF in BiH and the UNHCR/OSCE lead Return Facilitation Group in Croatia will be maintained. In addition to this, the ad hoc regional meetings involving UNHCR, OSCE and OHR considering all regional issues will be formalised and take place monthly with a rotating chair/location.
The Humanitarian Issues Working Group remains a key forum for engaging the parties in implementation of the UNHCR’s regional strategy endorsed by the Luxembourg PIC in June 1998.
Special Envoys/Article 74
In accordance with Article 74 of Luxembourg the High Representative has the option of appointing Special Envoys to particular locations. These may, but will not necessarily coincide with existing OHR Field Offices. Where they do coincide the Special Envoy will automatically be the Head of such an office and operate through the existing chain of command while maintaining his/her direct relationship with the High Representative. The High Representative will recommend locations for Special Envoys based on the article 74 reporting mechanism. It will be open to him to choose locations with particular return potential as well as those with specific problems.
SFOR has a crucial role to play in plan delivery both because of the security implications and their ability to move rapidly with small scale infrastructure delivery. In addition to the existing coordination mechanisms such as the Inter Agency Planning Group a joint “Plan Delivery Cell” will be established in Sarajevo to ensure improved information exchange and strategic plan development. This cell will also be responsible for designing and supervising the linkages between SFOR and the RRTF at both the regional and local levels. During Phase 1 of the plan the small scale project implementation capacity which already exists in a number of the MNDs will be extended and expanded.
The effective exercise of conditionality is a crucial part of the plan. The Field Offices and local RRTFs will be responsible for advising on municipal level linkages, while the High Representative maintains his responsibility for economic conditionality in conjunction with the Economic Task Force. During Phase 1 of the plan linkages will be established by the RRTF Secretariat and the ETF Secretariat, and Sector Task Forces to ensure that the High Representative’s policies are applied consistently and that the long term development actors are fully engaged in ensuring the sustainability of returns
7. Timelines/DeadlinesBased on the assumption of full endorsement by the Madrid PIC
PHASE 1 – 17 December 1998 to 31 January 1999
Discussion with State and Entity Authorities
Negotiations with donors on funding
Initiation of sector specific consultancies
Identification of target locations
Completion of individual support plans by all other actors
All management/coordination structures put in place
Completion of area and sector plans
PHASE 3 – 1 September 1999 to 31 October 1999
Plan Evaluation and Policy Review
PHASE 4 – 1 November 1999 to 30 November 1999
Annex 1: RRTF Media / Information StrategyThe RRTF will formulate, during Phases 1 and 2, an overall information strategy in support of the RRTF plan for minority return. As outlined in the RRTF Action Plan of March 1998, assistance will be aimed to ensure that refugees and DPs can make free and informed choices about their place of residence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the focus will be on those populations and areas which require the greatest assistance for such a free choice to become a reality. Accordingly the RRTF strategy will:
- provide support specific to the priority return axes set out by the regional RRTFs;
- target information to potential cross-border minority returnees, in cooperation with the RFG in Croatia, UNHCR in FRY and others. This will focus primarily on Croatian Serbs in Western RS but also address Bosnian Croats in Croatia and Bosnian Serbs in FRY;
- outline an in and out of country information campaign on property legislation, to inform DPs and refugees about new and amended property legislation, and mechanisms for claiming and returning to that property in both entities.
Coordination: While the strategy will be driven by OHR-RRTF, coordination is the cornerstone without which it will fail. OHR-RRTF and UNHCR must shape their efforts accordingly and it is essential that OSCE Democratisation and SFOR information activities in this sphere are directed by RRTF priorities. The messages going out to target groups from the RRTF in 1999 must be mutually reinforcing.
- This requires coordination and direction of return related information initiatives and press statements via RRTF structures:
- locally: one point of contact will be identified by each LRRTF to liaise with the regional coordination group. Information gaps should be identified at local level by the LRRTF working closely with DPs, refugees and their associations.
- regional: where this does not already exist, a coordination group will be set up at regional level with designated UNHCR, SFOR, OSCE and UNMIBH representatives. Again, RRTF-OHR will be the lead and designated staff resources will work with the regional coordinating group, its regional counterparts, and RRTF centrally, to design a strategy, allocate resources, task regional and local RRTFs and subcontract production in order to implement that strategy.
- centrally: a small steering group will be set up (UNHCR, SFOR, OSCE, USAID, UNMIBH and IOM) led by the OHR-RRTF Information Officer.
- cross–border: appropriate planning/coordination groups will be set up with the RFG in Croatia, and with UNHCR and relevant agencies in the FRY.
- This also requires an evaluation of how to maximise the financial and staff resources available to RRTF members for the production and dissemination of information, and to ensure coverage and the elimination of overlap in RRTF efforts. In light of the lack of will of the authorities or broadcasters in either entity to take their responsibilities towards public information seriously without sustained political pressure, an effective RRTF information strategy will require the allocation of significant financial and dedicated staff resources. Specifically:
- RRTF members will agree on a shared budget by the end 1999 for the continued property information campaign instead of pursuing the ad hoc approach of 1998. This campaign will be part of the strategy forwarded to the PIC in Madrid.
- RRTF members will, by end 1998, coordinate budgetary and staff resources to best effect both in terms of working on campaigns and to ensure geographical coverage.
- dissemination and follow-up are the key. National TV and local radio remain the key media channels and effective and timely dissemination will be guaranteed by devoting resources to this.
- personal contact is the most effective channel for return related information, thus:
- DPs, refugees and their associations must be worked with, supported, resourced and their capacity developed in this sphere; and
- geographical coverage of target DP populations, by information centres and mobile teams, must be ensured.
- credibility is key and as information must be both credible and cost-effective, there will be an emphasis on local input and resources for production.
- A member of a minority illegaly evicted from his/her accomodation during the war, who remains in the same municipality and whose case is still pending/remains unsolved
- In each of the priority axes tables that follow in this section, expected numbers of returns for 1998 and 1999 are given. The expected numbers of returns for 1998 are estimates based on UNHCR data, and information available to local RRTFs. The expected numbers of returns for 1999 are also estimated. Among the information they take into account are current RRTF caseload and expectations, estimates and plans given by DP and refugee groups, local authority estimates and plans, Municipal Return Office applications, and current conditions in receiving municipalities. The potential caseload is considerably higher.
- In terms of numbers of uprooted in Central Bosnia Canton, ratio between the major ethnic groups are:
Bosnian Croats 44% (72.179)
Bosniaks 28% (46.596)
Bosnian Serbs 28% (45.397)
- Serb DPs in Doboj will return to various cities and villages in the Federation while Bosniaks from the Federation will return to Doboj.
- Including repatriates from Germany, these Bosniaks will be returning to Bijeljina, Podrinja, Brcko, etc.
- There are low expectations for return for Srebrenica, Vlasenica and Bratunac, three extremely “hard-line” municipalities whose DPs are mainly from the Sarajevo and Olovo regions.