Manual for Sustainable Return
Part II - Operational Guidelines - Go and Inform and Go and See Visits
Go and Inform Visits and Go and See Visits are two key ways of establishing links between majority communities and the displaced. Both kinds of initiatives must be carefully planned. Go and Inform Visits should include members of the majority community, who are prepared to speak openly and honestly with IDPs/Refugees about return. The symbolism of such visits to IDPs/Refugees can be considerable. Similarly, Go and See Visits, when carefully arranged, can make significant contributions to confidence building. They should aim to allow maximum interaction between visiting IDPs/Refugees and the majority community, incorporating at least two types of meetings: official reception of IDPs/Refugees in the Municipality, welcomed by Municipal Officials; and meetings with former neighbours in potential return locations. Majorityparticipants in these meetings need to be carefully prepared, with full knowledge of planned visits and their objectives.
In addition, organising GSVs with the participation of KPS reinforces the perception that Kosovo's current institutions are here to protect all Kosovo's citizens, including IDPs/Refugees.
Go and Inform Visits
As key steps to respond to expressed wishes of possible return and to ensure dialogue with displaced persons, the MWG will organise "Go and Inform Visits" (GIVs). A GIV is intended to brief displaced residents, in their location of displacement, on the current situation of their municipality, village or neighbourhood of origin and hence intended to enable IDPs/Refugees to make a more informed choice on the possibility of returning.
UNHCR and its partners organise GIVs to locations where displaced communities currently reside. Usually, these visits will be conducted to locations identified by the MWGs in the steps above, or through an invitation from an IDP community itself. Due to either the volume of displacement sites or the number of requests from IDPs/Refugees, UNHCR may need to prioritise GIV locations. Prioritisation will be based on the information gathered from the RLPs, security assessments, and displacement mapping exercises, as well as on the level of interest demonstrated for the GIV by the displaced community. UNHCR will update its prioritisation of GIV locations as new requests for GIVs are identified. Once the locations for visits are determined, UNHCR will organise and chair the meetings with displaced families and invite international and local members of the MWG to present a briefing and answer questions. Each participating MWG member should prepare a brief in advance and the presentations should be shared and discussed with the other members prior to the GIV.
At the conclusion of the visit, UNHCR will offer participants the opportunity to travel to their preconflict homes in Kosovo as part of a Go and See Visit. UNHCR will then prepare and share a report of the GIV to the MWG at the next meeting.
The Chair of the MWG will be accountable for the necessary follow-up actions that result
from the GIV. GIVs should include members of the majority community, who are prepared to speak openly and honestly with IDPs/refugees about return. It is also practical if they include members of the minority community who have remained at the concerned location, or locally based IDPs from the community of concern. They enjoy the highest degree of credibility when briefing IDPs on living conditions of their ethnic community in place of origin.
Go and See Visits
Go and See Visits (GSVs) are an essential planning tool to gauge the potential for returns in a given area. Displaced persons are invited to visit their pre-conflict homes as part of an organised tour where security and transport are provided for the time required to complete the objectives of the visit. Through this process, the displaced families will be better able to assess their possibilities to return in light of the current situation in their municipality.
GSVs to some locations still encounter a degree of hostility. The risk of hostility can be reduced through careful preparation, background knowledge on proposed visit locations, and provision of requisite security. Preparation should consider both the local community, and the IDPs/Refugees. All villagers must know of the proposed visit in advance, its objectives and the principles inspiring the visit: here village meetings can be most effective. If possible, Municipal Assembly or administrative officials should be encouraged to accompany IDPs/Refugees throughout the GSV as part of their commitment to provide IDPs/Refugees with freedom of movement, thereby underlining the legitimacy of the visits in the eyes of the local community. The involvement of KPS rather than KFOR sends out important messages to both the local communities and IDPs/Refugees about the provision of law and order, and local involvement and responsibility for the return process. KFOR, however, should be ready to step in if security problems arise.
The Chair of the MWG requests UNHCR to organise GSVs for displaced families who have shown interest during GIVs or through a separate, explicit request by displaced persons for a GSV. UNHCR is responsible for the organisation but may delegate the implementation to a lead agency or another partner NGO. UNHCR is responsible for preparing a participant list. No MWG member can veto the participation of a potential returnee to take part in a GSV, however, the IDP/refugee concerned should be informed about any objections expressed by the local community in view of possible security threats. UNHCR will ensure transparency in the selection of the displaced persons taking part in the GSV as well as making sure that the group is representative of its community.
UNHCR (or its delegate) is responsible for contacting the individual participants taking part in the GSV and for organising their transport from the place of displacement to Kosovo. KFOR and/or UNMIK Police are responsible for providing escorts for the participants within Kosovo when necessary. On arrival in the municipality, the President of the Municipal Assembly and the MA should greet the potential returnees and then provide a briefing. In this meeting, chaired by UNHCR, members of MWG inform the GSV participants of the current situation in their pre-conflict place of residence. Issues of particular interest to the IDPs/Refugees, such as housing reconstruction opportunities, HPD, former employment and income generating opportunities, security and freedom of movement, social welfare and pensions, education and the structure and management of the Municipality, should be covered as part of the briefings. As with the GIV briefings, all presentations should be prepared before the GSV and discussed with the MWG members.
With the support of UNMIK Police and UNMIK, UNHCR (or its delegate) is responsible for the visits to individual participants' homes. This is an opportunity for IDPs/Refugees/Refugees to visit former neighbours and re-establish links with their old community. To reduce the potential for public disturbances and/or destabilising community relations, MWG members should be in contact with the host community prior to re-introducing the displaced persons to their former neighbours. Additionally, the emotional stress of visiting homes of origin should not be underestimated. Accordingly, MWG members participating in the GSV should give special attention to the sensitivities of the displaced persons. NGOs, UNMIK, UNHCR should accompany displaced persons, in addition to the Civilian Police if escorts are required.
After the "home visits", UNHCR (or its delegate) conducts one-on-one interviews with the GSV participants (see Annex 3 for interviews suggestions) with the assistance of UNMIK, potential implementing partners or other MWG members. These sessions must be voluntary and should attempt to collect relevant information on participant IDPs/Refugees and their condition in displacement. Data regarding the individual's current status, former employment background and other skills, potential livelihood upon return, and former relations with neighbours is useful input for developing projects and planning for a potential return. At the conclusion of the GSV, UNHCR collects all survey information and presents it to the MWG at its next session.