Donors are laying the groundwork on a housing program for refugees forced to flee their homes in the 1991 to 1995 conflicts in southeast Europe.
On Tuesday (April 24), participants at a regional donor conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, pledged more than €300 million ($396 million) to the Program for Return initiative. The program is a joint initiative by the four former Yugoslavian states of Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro.
The five-year housing initiative, estimated to cost €583 million, is expected to benefit 74,000 people or 28,000 families, Serbian multimedia company B92 reports. Serbia will receive more than half of the funds: 63 percent. Bosnia will get 20 percent, Croatia 13 percent and Montenegro 4 percent.
The European Union, one of the donors present at the conference, pledged €230 million while the United States pledged €7.5 million. The four Balkan states will contribute €83 million to the program.
“This is a day to celebrate as we all commit to write the last chapter of the displacement tragedy of the Western Balkans in the 1990s,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees chief Antonio Guterres said.
UNHCR will monitor the project’s implementation. The program is scheduled to start autumn this year.
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