More than 73,000 refugees from the Balkans War remain displaced throughout Serbia, 15 years after the signing of the Dayton Accords. National and local authorities in Serbia have begun to make efforts to accommodate the social and economic integration of ethnic Serbian refugees who fled Croatia. Nevertheless, manifold problems remain: inadequate housing, unemployment, lack of higher education, lack of documentation, unresolved claims to property and pensions, and loss of occupancy and tenancy rights.
The refugee population in Serbia is one of five in the world that will receive greater attention under UNHCR’s special initiative on protracted refugee situations. In addition, Serbia and Croatia's European Union accession path elevated European interest, thus increasing the likelihood that U.S. Government engagement might contribute to resolving this protracted refugee situation.
The U.S. Government’s goals are to enhance protection and assistance to refugees in Serbia, and to promote durable solutions through restitution and provision of housing – and to do so in coordination with the international community and the EU in particular. We are also supporting pilot social housing models in Bosnia to move some of the over 7,000 refugees and 102,000 IDPs in Bosnia out of collective centers. This programming continues implementation of Annex VII of the Dayton Accords and supports the 2005 Sarajevo Declaration.
The U.S. Government will continue diplomatic efforts to obtain Croatian and Serbian government agreement on ways to effect return and reintegration to Croatia, and will continue to fund programs supporting integration projects in Serbia. The U.S. will work with local governments and other donors to advocate for the resolution of property, occupancy and tenancy claims in Croatia; housing solutions for returnees to Croatia; and resolution of key citizenship issues for others in the region. The U.S. will work with the governments of Serbia and Croatia and development actors to include former refugees in national development plans.