"Kosovo/a Initiative" Assessment Mission
R E P O R T
DRC Job no. 503-556
Supported by FRESTA
The assessment mission was carried in order to analyze the possibilities for setting up a co-operation between local NGOs from Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia, aiming to provide assistance to the process of return of IDPs to Kosovo and to the establishment of inter-ethnic dialogue between the different communities.
The primary aim of the assessment was to explore activities and capacities of NGOs from Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro related to the facilitation of minority and majority returns of IDPs to Kosovo and supporting processes of local re-integration.
The secondary aim of the assessment was to define operational modalities for NGO cross-border co-operation regarding the facilitation of return and reintegration of IDPs in Kosovo. It is expected that this will also be seen as a long-term contribution towards strengthening the SEE-RAN network.
The assessment mission team visited and contacted about 30 local and international NGOs and organizations in all countries/regions. This assessment report is based on the integrated input from all interviewed stakeholders.
The assessment team has identified a number of common issues, needs and concerns. The general conclusions and recommendations in this report will strongly inform the development of a programme document regarding the cross-boundary NGO co-operation on Return to Kosovo.
The main conclusions of this assessment report are:
- Almost all visited local NGOs already have, or are in the process of developing, some concrete activities related to the facilitation of the minority and majority return process
- Local NGOs are mainly focused on their immediate beneficiaries in the local community where they operate; very few of them have a regional approach to the problem of IDPs and refugees and to the process of return and reintegration through community revitalization
- Local NGOs are still to a large extent opportunity - and/or donor-driven in defining the scope of their programme activities and identifying beneficiaries.
- There is generally low level of knowledge among local NGOs about policies, standardized practices and regulations related to the status, rights and protection issues concerning refugees and IDPs.
- Although the overall situation remains far from satisfactory and conducive to a larger scale return process, there is also a set of good examples of return and reintegration that can serve both as an inspiration for potential returnees and NGOs and as a resource of good practices and methodologies, which can be applied in the work of local NGOs.
- In some instances, and beyond cross-border co-operation, there is a need to provide mechanisms for linking NGOs within specific countries/regions where there is a lack of internal information sharing and exchange activities (e.g. in Kosovo)
- The co-operation/network should be based on concrete activities focused on facilitation of return and reintegration.
- Any co-operation/network should be an environment for promoting and enhancing concrete co-operation activities through cross-boundary projects, rather than a formal membership based structure.
- Establishment of cross-boundary NGO cooperation links and communication mechanisms can contribute to increase the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices, resulting in the enhancement of a more independent and proactive approach when it comes to defining problems and targeting beneficiaries. This would enable the local NGOs to establish themselves as equal partners when it comes to the quite complex task of facilitating return and reintegration in the region.
- It is necessary to ensure that the capacity building component of the future programme includes mechanisms to address the problem of a generally low level of knowledge when it comes to return-related policies, guidelines, standardised practices and conventions. In this respect links should be made to the relevant international stakeholders (such as UNMIK / ORC, UNHCR, OSCE, Stability Pact and EU) as potential resources.
- The cooperation/network can establish mechanisms for exchange of information, dissemination of positive examples ('best practices') as well as challenges related to the return process, and thus become a resource for local NGOs, the wider public and professional audience.
- The cooperation/network can increase the level of visibility of positive examples of return and thus enhance the entire return process.
The report suggests that the programme should focus on the following types of activities:
- Exchange of information and best practices between NGOs related to return and reintegration, aiming at better information dissemination towards beneficiaries.
In order to enhance the effectiveness of these mechanisms, it is highly recommendable to also involve existing initiatives such as the Refugee Radio Network, to ensure wider coverage of the region.
- Increasing the visibility of the NGOs' return and reintegration activities, thus increasing the visibility of successful return and reintegration efforts.
- Organizing regular visits of representatives of local NGOs to beneficiaries, NGOs and projects outside of the environments in which the NGOs are currently operating. In that respect, already existing networks and programmes (such as SEE-RAN, the NGO Transition and Development Programme, the Triangle Cooperation Network, as well as the ECMI Network in Macedonia) can serve as relevant resources.
- Providing assistance to the cross-boundary networking initiatives of young people (incl. youth members of local NGOs) in order to promote sustainability in revitalization of inter-ethnic relations and dialogue in the post-conflict areas.
Link these initiatives with other regional youth networks such as FRESTA supported SEE-Youth Network and other crosscutting projects for youth (e.g. Found Friend).
- Linking the activities and networking efforts of local NGOs with representatives of communities with which NGOs have active cooperation, thus aiming at promotion of mechanisms for cross-boundary cooperation between local municipalities, particularly those with experiences of inter-ethnic conflicts and hostilities.
- Capacity building of local NGOs. Focusing on NGO management, advanced skills in working with beneficiaries, and on increasing the NGOs' knowledge of principles, policies and procedures related to the process of return of internally displaced people, thereby increasing their advocacy skills.