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"Kosovo/a Initiative" Assessment Mission


DRC Job no. 503-556

Supported by FRESTA

Framework for return

Return of IDPs and refugees to Kosovo - under the UN Resolution 1244 and the Framework for Return - is primarily governed by the existing structures on local, regional and central level. This procedure is explained in detail in the UNMIK produced "Manual for Sustainable Returns", setting out formats in which projects are to be submitted, preliminary work that needs to be done and considerations that should be reflected in planning return projects.

The Municipal Working Groups (MWG) are the first instance key structures for discussing issues of importance for each community and it is at their meetings that return initiatives are presented, deliberated and subsequently approved in the form of Concept Papers. Regional Working Groups (RWG) address the same range of issues on the regional level and are also consulted with regard to return projects that are to be adopted. Final adoption of the proposed Concept Papers lies with the Techical Advisory Board (TAB) held on the highest institutional level in Pristina.

Most of the MWG have already involved IDPs and their representatives in their work, but there are communities in Kosovo where this still needs to happen or to be enhanced. Knowledge of these procedures and mechanisms is crucial for organizations, including local NGOs and IDP associations to be able to adequately address the needs and requests of their beneficiaries opting for return.

When it comes to coordination of humanitarian, reconstruction, return and related programme activities, Kosovo/a has been divided into 5 operational regions:

Prishtine/Pristina, Gjilan/Gnjilane, Mitrovice/a, Prizren/i, Peje/Pec.

UNHCR has appointed lead agencies for each region, which submit regular reports on the developments in their area. These lead agency reports are a useful tool in planning, since they provide plenty of updated information relevant for return and other issues.

The situation in these regions varies from relatively "soft" areas generally conducive to return of all nationalities (such as Gjilan and some parts of the wider Prizren region) to areas still difficult or openly opposed to returning communities (some parts of Pec/Peja region and the area around Suhareke/Suva Reka in wider Prizren region).

These situations impact on the type and extent of return projects possible, as well as on the type of assistance for and projects needed by local NGOs, as the key civil society players who could contribute to a more relaxed and open climate, both in majority and minority communities in Kosovo/a.

Another important issue is that of the so-called "enclaves", populated mainly by the Serbian community. For many practical reasons, these enclaves provide security for this population and an environment where they can preserve their specific culture and language, as well as sustainability for the families. On the other hand, the relative isolation from the rest of Kosovo's society creates an impression of a ghetto and deepens the rift between ethnic groups.

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