New $3 million Government Aid Package for the Balkans - O'Donnell
Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance & Human Rights, today announced a comprehensive aid package for the Western Balkans amounting to £3 million - the most significant since the Kosovo conflict. In announcing the package the Minister of State said,
“The size of this package is made possible by the expanded overseas aid budget which is set to quadruple by 2007. This has facilitated the more pro-active funding dynamic which Ireland Aid can now apply to the Western Balkans and other regions in clear need of humanitarian assistance”.
Today's package will support 17 aid programmes in Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Croatia in partnership with non-governmental and international implementing organisations. It will help returning refugees and internally displaced persons to rebuild their lives and to meet basic housing, education, health, water and sanitation needs. Other areas being assisted include media independence; community rehabilitation and conflict analysis. Support is also being provided for female victims of human trafficking in Romania. £0.84 million of today's package is allocated to four projects being implemented under the international Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe.
“This is a positive and logical progression of our earlier assistance to the Balkan region and shows that Ireland remains sensitive to the acute humanitarian needs of the region's vulnerable population. The fact that today's package includes support for emergency operations in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia illustrates how fragile the current peace is and the need for our continued support for conflict resolution and towards building a lasting peace”, the Minister of State added.
Today's package brings the total assistance provided by Ireland Aid to the Western Balkans so far this year to £3.35 million and that provided since 1996 to a total of over £21 million.
Note: A summary of the 17 projects being supported is annexed for information.
Annex to Press Release
IRELAND AID WESTERN BALKANS PACKAGE, JUNE 2001
Description of Projects
1. IOM Return of Legal Professionals to Minority Areas £160,000
Since 1996 the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has had responsibility for the coordination of all operational and logistic aspects of the voluntary return of Bosnian refugees. Between 1996 and 1999, IOM returned and placed more then 900 professional Bosnian nationals. This programme, which has already received some funding from the Canadian government, aims to assist in the creation of a transparent and openly competitive selection process for judges and prosecutors within both the Federation and RS, facilitating the return of these professionals to municipalities where their ethnic group forms the minority.
2. GOAL Housing Rehabilitation £128,000
IA has funded GOAL in Gorazde Canton for a number of years and has always been satisfied with the standard of their projects. In 2000 Ireland Aid funded three separate GOAL projects in the Canton. These projects tend to focus on beneficiaries that have been overlooked in favour of returnees. GOAL reports that despite the assertion that BiH is moving toward development, many people's most basic housing needs have not been met. The main objectives of this project are rehabilitating the basic structure of an apartment block, rehabilitating 20 apartments and providing electricity.
3. CARE Micro-Finance Programme £220,000
CARE is seeking continued funding for a programme which is implemented by the Bosnian micro-credit organisation Mikrofin. The programme addresses the lack of economic opportunity available to ordinary Bosnian people. Mikrofin has achieved a 100% record in terms of loan repayment from borrowers and is now self-sustaining in its current area of operations, western Republika Srpska. Monitoring visits and reports show this programme to be very effective in assisting low income families to create their own income generating activities.
4. CRPC Property Rights £255,000
The Commission for Real Property Claims (CRPC) was established to address the crucial issue of property ownership and in particular acting as an independent arbiter over disputed cases. Ireland Aid has been funding CRPC for a number of years and has been very satisfied with its accomplishments during that time. Since its inception as part of the Dayton agreement, it has registered 221,405 claims and issued 127,253 final and binding decisions on ownership. The impact of CRPC's activities over the past few years has been cross-cutting but perhaps most crucial to the area of refugee and IDP return. In summary, CRPC is a useful and cost-effective intervention which has a very wide impact on the lives of ordinary Bosnians.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (KOSOVO)
5. ICG Conflict Prevention £75,000
The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a multinational NGO committed to strengthening the capacity of the international community, including Ireland, to anticipate, understand and act to prevent and contain conflict. Teams of political analysts based on the ground in countries at risk of crisis, gather information from a wide range of sources, assess local conditions and produce regular analytical reports containing practical recommendations. ICG has been active in Kosovo since late 1997, when it started following up advance warnings of impending crisis. Since that time it has issued a total of 29 reports on Kosovo. Other donors to this project include The Canadian, German and Swiss governments.
6. UNCHS Property Directorate £220,000
The UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) has responsibility for Kosovo's Housing and Property Directorate (HPD). This was established by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to regularise housing and property rights and to settle residential property claims. The protection of property rights remains a cornerstone of the peace process and the social and economic stability of Kosovo. HPD has the judicial power to issue final and legally binding decisions on the property rights of refugees and IDPs. It can also offer mediation services and avoid the need for formal legal process wherever possible. A grant of £150,000 was made to this programme in 2000.
7. UNDP Village Employment and Rehabilitation Programme £150,000
The objective of this programme is to provide temporary employment on labour-intensive public works projects to unskilled workers in vulnerable communities, while simultaneously building the capacity of the municipal administrations to identify, plan and implement public works projects. Projects such as this meet a critical need. The UNMIK Department of Labour and Employment places estimates of unemployment levels in Kosovo in the range of 60-80% with this rate significantly increased in rural areas and areas populated by ethnic minorities.
8. UNICEF Health, Water and Sanitation £150,000
Health indicators in Kosovo are still a matter of serious concern, particularly those relating to women and children. This programme aims to improve the re-established health care system in Kosovo through maternal support, capacity building and the training of staff in local health facilities. The programme also supports the development of antenatal care and maternal and child health services.
9. IRC Community Centre Rehabilitation £139,000
Through this project, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) aims to rehabilitate the Leposavic/Leposaviq community centre in ethnically-mixed Northern Kosovo. It proposes to make the centre available to the whole population living in three mixed northern municipalities. It is estimated that upon its completion the centre will service approximately 6,000 people in the urban area and 4,000 in the surrounding villages. It has been agreed that when the rehabilitation work is completed, UNMIK will assume responsibility for its running and maintenance. It is crucial that projects such this are supported in Northern Kosovo where the population is still ethnically mixed.
10. UNICEF Education Programme £150,000
UNICEF continues to work to ensure access to quality primary education, to improve early childhood and pre-school education, to develop a unified school curriculum and to provide psycho-social support. It is recommended that Ireland make a contribution to UNICEF's programme in Kosovo specifically toward rehabilitating primary schools and providing safe water to primary school children.
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA (SERBIA)
11. IOM Direct Assistance to IDPs £120,000
This entire International Organisation for Migration (IOM) programme aims to provide 500 IDPs with vocational skills training and qualified assistance to facilitate their future reintegration into the Kosovo economic environment. It is estimated that there are 187,000 IDPs from Kosovo in Serbia. There are two components to the programme. The first is designed to provide beneficiaries with qualified assistance for capacity building in order to facilitate their future reintegration into the Kosovo economic environment and encourage their return. The second is designed to provide in kind and/or financial assistance (in the form of grants) to the targeted beneficiaries in order to provide them with means of subsistence and give a concrete support for their future return.
12. ICRC Emergency Assistance £198,000
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provides for the basic needs of vulnerable people in Serbia and Montenegro, the majority of whom are Serb and Roma IDPs/refugees. Their programme currently feeds 120,000 of the most vulnerable people in Serbia/Montenegro in addition to distributing baby parcels for infant care and hygiene parcels to vulnerable and displaced families. It is important that Irish assistance in Serbia recognise that there is still a need for providing for basic needs, in addition to supporting rehabilitation initiatives.
FYROM (FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA)
13. ICRC Emergency Assistance to Displaced People £200,000
Thousands of people have been displaced as a consequence of the recent fighting between rebels and government forces in Macedonia. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is at the forefront in dealing with the immediate needs of displaced people is Macedonia. ICRC teams are involved in the delivery of medical and hygiene supplies and the evacuation of vulnerable civilians. A emergency assistance contribution of £200,000 to their programme is recommended.
STABILITY PACT FOR SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE
On 10 June 1999, at the EU's initiative, the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe was adopted in Cologne. In the founding document, more than 40 partner countries and organisations undertook to strengthen the countries of south eastern Europe "in their efforts to foster peace, democracy, respect for human rights and economic prosperity in order to achieve stability in the whole region". The Stability Pact is the first serious attempt by the international community to replace the previous, reactive crisis intervention policy in South Eastern Europe with a comprehensive, long-term conflict prevention strategy.
14. AIM Independent Media Programme £135,000
The Alternative Information Network (AIM) is a network of independent journalists in former Yugoslavia and the southern Balkans which provides a service of in-depth information in the local languages and in English. This project was funded in 2000 and Ireland Aid has received reports indicating the successful implementation of its activities during the funded period. This programme operates in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.
15. IOM Cross Border Return Programme £325,000
This International Organisation for Migration (IOM) programme which has been ongoing since 1999 and works in close cooperation with UNHCR, was funded by Ireland in 2000 under the Stability Pact budget. The programme organises safe and organised returns for refugees and displaced persons; assistance, guidance and individual counselling on the modalities of return: transport and logistical assistance and other important services to facilitate refugee return. The continuing value of programmes such as this can be appreciated when it is remembered that according to official statistics almost 1.4 million people are still refugees or IDPs within the countries of the former Yugoslavia (excluding Kosovo).
16. IOM Counter-Trafficking Programme £125,000
As with the other projects included in the package under proposed Stability Pact spending, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) counter-trafficking programme in Romania was funded in 2000. The programme builds on ongoing assistance provided by the international community to victims of trafficking by providing an inter-agency referral system offering individually-tailored reintegration options to victims of human trafficking. It also provides direct assistance to the victims of trafficking and works to prevent trafficking in the region. The programme is focussed primarily on the trafficking of women and girls, many of whom are in their early teens.
17. UNEP Clean-Up of Environmental Hotspots in FRY £250,000
The objective of this United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) project is to conduct a post-conflict humanitarian clean-up of environmental damage in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) caused by the Kosovo conflict. Over the next year the project will continue to focus on a number of targeted clean-up sites such as damaged oil refineries and sewer pipelines.
Emergency and Rehabilitation Assistance Unit
24th June 2001