News 08 Aug 13

Serb Refugees Urged to Return to Croatia, Bosnia

The Serbian authorities said that refugees who fled Croatia and Bosnia during wartime and lost their homes should apply soon if they want to be given new property.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

The Serbian commission for refugees has urged all those whose property was confiscated or destroyed during the 1990s war in Croatia to apply for new homes under a reparation programme run by the Croatian regional development ministry and a EU fund.  

“The deadline for application is August 31. All those who are eligible cannot get their old property, but can get a new one,” said Jelena Maric, spokesperson for the commission for refugees.

“Those with tenant’s rights can have 35 square meters, while family members can get 10 square metres each,” she said.

Those who are eligible to apply are refugees, returnees or internally displaced people who had tenant’s rights in Croatia before April 8, 1991, and who wish to return to live permanently in the country.

One condition is that the applicant does not own a house or apartment in Croatia or any other former Yugoslav country.

Maric added that same deadline – August 31 – applies to refugees who fled from Bosnia and Herzegovina and wish to apply for the Regional Housing Programme aimed at rebuilding the homes of those who fled during the Bosnian war.

The Regional Housing Programme is backed by 583 million euro of donations raised last year at a conference organised jointly by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.

It aims to resolve the housing problems of 27,000 refuge families across the region, of which more than 16,000 are in Serbia.

During the war, more than half the population of Bosnia - around 2.2 million people - was displaced or become refugees. In Croatia, the number of displaced people was 550,000, and in Serbia 540,000.

Almost 20 years after the war, there are still some 74,000 vulnerable people who are expected to benefit from the Regional Housing Programme, which is backed by the EU, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the UNHCR, the OSCE and the United States.

The programme will be implemented over a period of five years.

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