Regional Housing Programme as an example of dignified solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons

By gathering beneficiaries and donors of the Regional Housing Programme, the largest programme for housing of refugees and internally displaced persons, today was marked the World Day of Refugees – 20 June and promoted the concrete results of the programme.

The European Union is the largest donor to the Regional Housing Programme, with over €230 million donated to provide permanent and sustainable housing for refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees through the construction of apartments in residential buildings and renovation of houses. So far, around 800 housing units have been built in BiH, and by 2021, the ultimate goal is to build more than 3000 residential units within this program.

“The funds the European Union has invested in this program are impressive; however, the concrete results and people we helped are more important. Everything we do is for you, and thank you for receiving us today and being our hosts. I have had the opportunity to deliver keys to several families in Olovo and I am very happy to have had the opportunity to witness the happiness of the families when they entered their new homes,” said Richard Maša, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to BiH.

By joining forces with the international donor community and local governments at all levels, the Regional Housing Programme has provided housing solutions and supported to reintegration in society. “The majority of the families are facing problems and that is why we need to continue working on social and economic integration in the society. The European Union will support you in the process and help you with integration, education and new jobs,” stressed Maša.

After over two decades spent moving within often temporary and bad conditions, thousands of families across Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region have received keys to their new homes. “I came back to my birthplace, where I was born and lived my life. I am back to my own piece of land and I am not going anywhere,” proudly said Janja Pirel, who has returned back to her neighbours and closest friends after spending twenty years as a refugee.

Life stories and experiences like Janja’s remind us that numerous challenges remain to ensuring sustainable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and across the region. The Regional Housing Programme serves as a successful example of reconciliation, cooperation and building of trust between the countries of the region and all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Regional Housing Programme has brought a different dimension to building the trust of all project stakeholders. By working together we have been able to help each other. Aside from its regional character, this programme has helped us to bring stability and not only provide roofs over people’s heads but to support their reintegration in the society,” noted Semiha Borovac, BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees.

For the financing and implementation of this programme, the donors have so far allocated more than €280 million, of which €64.5 million relates to projects in BiH. In addition to the European Union, as the largest donor, with contribution of €234 million, follow the United States with €24 million, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Turkey and several other countries. Strong support to the program is provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB).

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