News 13 Sep 17

Bosnia Plans New Homes for War-Displaced

Bosnian officials met to discuss how to resolve the issue of some 7,200 people made homeless by the 1990s war who are still living in temporary accommodation in so-called ‘collective centres’.

Emza Fazlic
BIRN
Banja Luka
Republika Srpska refugee rights official Senad Bratic at the meeting. Photo: Anadolu.

Bosnian officials met for a second day in the coastal town of Neum on Tuesday to discuss how to ensure that the 7,200 people living in 121 collective centres across the country get homes, over two decades after the war ended.

Senad Bratic, president of the Republika Srpska People's Assembly’s committee for the protection of refugee rights, displaced people and returnees, which organised the meeting, said the plan was to resolve the issue in the next three years.

The intention is to build 2,611 residential units of non-profit social housing in which the residents of the collective centres will be rehoused.

Bratic told BIRN that there was now the collective will at all levels of government to resolve the issue.

“Politics was too much involved in this matter. Now, for the first time, there is a willingness to resolve this issue and we have decided to leave politics on the sidelines this time and enable these people to live a decent life,” he explained.

“Now all the levels of government that want to cooperate and resolve this issue are gathered together, the atmosphere is really good and we are heading in that direction,” he said.

The Council of Europe Development Bank has offered over 61 million euros in credit to help finally close the collective centres, Bratic added.

He cautioned however that many people living in the collective centres were old, poor and in bad health, and needed more extensive help than just rehousing.

“They need help in the co-financing of their basic living needs too,” he said.

Marina Barreiro, head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia’s human rights section, said meanwhile that “it is important that government representatives from the state, entity and local level jointly agree on activities related to the closure of collective centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

“We hope that today’s agreed conclusions will be adopted in all relevant parliaments so that returnees and displaced persons can achieve adequate access to housing, medical services and health insurance without discrimination,” Barreiro added.

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