The European Union is the biggest donor of assistance for refugees and the displaced in Serbia, as stated at the opening of the “New Home” photo exhibition. The exhibition, staged at Impact Hub in Belgrade, showcased the results of two major initiatives through which the European Union contributes to finding durable housing solutions and integration of refugees and internally displaced persons in Serbia and the region – the Regional Housing Programme and the project “For A Better Life“ worth more than €260 million and €14.2 million, respectively.
The exhibition was opened by the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Oskar Benedikt, Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and Migration Vladimir Cucic and the Governor of the CoE Development Bank Rolf Wenzel.
Deputy Head of the EU Delegation Oskar Benedikt said the EU had pledged to financially assist the return of refugees and the displaced and would keep on delivering on that promise until the last refugee or displaced person has received an adequate housing solution.
“After years spent in shelters, often living in very poor conditions, many of refugees will finally celebrate slava, New Year, Christmas and other holidays in their homes, thanks to the EU and other donors, as well as Serbian Government, the Commissariat for refugees in particular.”
The European Union is the biggest donor of assistance for refugees and IDPs in Serbia: in the past 15 years, we donated EUR90 million to Serbia through various national programmes, most of which has been aimed to providing housing to refugees. Furthermore, the EU had granted nearly EUR80 million to Serbia in order to provide new homes to 45,000 refugees.
Today, these photos are a glimpse into some of the results of these projects implemented together with the Commissariat for Refugees and the CoE Development Bank. We thank Mr Cucic and Mr Wenzel for their cooperation and for being here with us today,“ Benedikt said.
Republic Commissioner for Refugees and Migration Vladimir Cucić said that the exhibition served as a little reminder about what had been done for refugees in concert, and at the same time a reminder to where further effort should be made.
“Our common goal is to provide durable housing solutions to the most vulnerable refugees not only by rebuilding their homes, but also by assisting them to rebuild their lives and put them back on their feet.
These photographs are another proof that the climate of trust is slowly coming back to our region, that we are united in our effort to put an end to the refugee chapter and take care of all people who were left in need once the war had ended. Within the Regional Housing Programme, considerable funding has been allocated to provide housing to the most vulnerable refugee families. Also, financial resources from EU pre-accession funds have been used to close collective centres and provide the displaced with adequate housing solutions. It is worth noting that a large portion of funds aimed at providing housing has been allocated from the budgets of the Republic of Serbia and local governments,“ Cucic said.
Governor of the CoE Development Bank, the institution responsible for the management of the Regional Housing Programme Fund, Rolf Wenzel, said he felt happy about the exhibition.
The CEB was originally established to help bring solutions to the problems of refugees. Today, 60 years later, I am pleased to re-confirm our strong commitment: we will continue to provide substantive support to Serbia to ensure a successful implementation of the RHP. We would like to acknowledge the impressive efforts that Serbia is making to provide support to vulnerable populations, including not only in the RHP framework but also in its efforts to help the migrants on the Balkan route,” Wenzel said.
The exhibition is open to the public and is running until 19 January 2016. It is organised within and is the final event of the campaign “EU and Serbia: 15 years of partnership”. Over the past 15 years, the EU has donated over €3 billion to Serbia. More about the campaign: http://europa.rs/tag/srbija-i-eu-15-godina-partnerstva/
More about the RHP at: www.regionalhousingprogramme.org.