"Kosovo/a Initiative" Assessment Mission
R E P O R T
DRC Job no. 503-556
Supported by FRESTA
The overall situation in Macedonia can generally be described as positive, as relevant statistics show that the majority of internally displaced have already returned to their homes as well as refugees from Kosovo after the end of conflicts in the province in 1999. Return of internally displaced people in Macedonia has been significantly supported by intensive reconstruction of the destroyed and damaged houses in the communities affected by the conflict in 2001. The process of restoring the peace and stability in the country is now focused on revitalization of communities where the conflict and hostilities happened. This process includes establishment of confidence building and inter-ethnic dialogue between different ethnic groups, and representatives of the civil society in Macedonia (local NGOs) play an important role in facilitation of this process.
The refugee crisis in Macedonia, which involved people that were forced to flee from Kosovo has been generally resolved as most of the refugees returned to their homes. However, at present there is still a relatively small number of refugees temporarily settled in Macedonia who have not returned yet (mostly Roma and a very small number of Serbs). This group of people is seen as the primary target group, which will be in the focus of the future NGO cooperation structure. The return process for non-Albanian refugees is still blocked by lack of security, level of destruction of refugees' homes and lack of economic opportunities in Kosovo, which would guarantee safe and sustainable return for them. In addition, a number of Roma refugees in Macedonia are still hoping for the resettlement to third countries and hence are not very interested in going back to their places of origin.
NGOs in the context of return
Within the local NGO community there is a substantial difference in the development level, from large and well established NGOs that have been operating throughout Macedonia for a longer period, such as el Hilal and the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, and smaller ones that operate in local communities, sometimes lacking basic resources to do their everyday work. The development of the local NGO scene in Macedonia has been significantly influenced by the Kosovo refugee crises in 1999 and inter-ethnic conflicts in Macedonia in 2001. Most of the local NGOs have been established during that period, often being opportunity and / or donor driven, and it is only now that they are emerging from the humanitarian and relief interventions to taking part in the society development in Macedonia.
Despite the described situation, the know-how and experiences of Macedonian NGOs in community revitalization and establishment of the inter-ethnic dialogue in the post-conflict areas, as well as their existing and potential activities with refugees from Kosovo represent a potential that is valuable resource for the future establishment of the NGO cooperation network.
Other FRESTA initiatives
In terms of FRESTA funded initiatives, there are local NGOs who are members of SEERAN (such as ADI and El Hilal), who take part in network and cross cutting activities, such as the Legal Issues Group and have held their national and co-organised the Regional Conference on refugee and IDP legal issues. Macedonia also has radio stations that are members of the Refugee Radio Network, broadcasting relevant programmes in all local languages.
FRESTA also provides part of the funding for the ECMI Regional Office in Skopje and its activities on networking local NGOs in Macedonia.
Based on the meetings during the visit, the Assessment Team has made the following conclusions and recommendations specific for Macedonia.