"Kosovo/a Initiative" Assessment Mission
R E P O R T
DRC Job no. 503-556
Supported by FRESTA
5. Final Conclusions and Recommendations of the Assessment Mission
Based on the conclusions and recommendations above, the assessment team has identified a number of common issues, needs and concerns that are common to all of them.
The assessment team was able to conclude that all visited NGOs have welcomed the idea of establishing a regional cooperation network concentrated on facilitation of the return process to Kosovo. Both the assessment team and representatives of visited NGOs recommend that the network should be based on concrete activities focused on facilitation of return and reintegration. In this context the network should be an environment for promoting concrete cooperation activities through cross-boundary projects, rather than a formal membership-based structure. In support to this, the Assessment team was able to observe that 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. This represents a good starting point for the establishment of a new regional cooperation network.
The following general conclusions and recommendations represent the foundation of a potential cross-boundary co-operation programme.
- 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. In some instances, beyond the cross border linkages, 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.
- Local NGOs are still to a large extent opportunity- and/or donor-driven in defining the scope of their programme activities and identifying beneficiaries. In that respect, establishment of cross-boundary NGO co-operation links and communication mechanisms can contribute to increase the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best practices, which could result in enhancing a more independent and proactive approach of NGOs regarding defining problems and targeting beneficiaries. Thus, local NGOs can establish themselves as equal partners in carrying out the complex task of return and reintegration of the displaced people in Kosovo.
- 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. The assessment team finds it necessary to ensure that the capacity building component of a future programme includes mechanisms to address this problem, i.e. also links with relevant international stakeholders (such as UNMIK/ORC, UNHCR, OSCE, Stability Pact and EU).
- Presently, there is a limited wider knowledge on examples of successful return and reintegration of internally displaced people in the region. Although the overall situation remains to be far from being satisfactory and completely 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 this respect, the potential cooperation network can increase the level of visibility of positive examples of return thus potentially enhancing the entire process. The cooperation network can establish mechanisms for exchange of information, positive examples as well as challenges related to the return process, which can be the resource for local NGOs and wider public and professional audience.
The process of return should be based on a free and informed decision of displaced people and it needs to include activities focusing on reintegration and community revitalization. Local NGOs see themselves as a positive force, which can contribute to the speeding up of the return process and would like to be more involved in this process. In that respect, the potential cooperation network should concentrate on the following activities:
1. Exchange of information and best practices between NGOs related to return and reintegration of primarily IDPs in Kosovo aiming at better information dissemination towards beneficiaries i.e. IDPs and refugees from Kosovo. 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.
2. Increasing visibility of NGOs return and reintegration activities and experiences and in that context, increasing visibility of successful return and reintegration efforts.
3. 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.
4. Providing assistance to the cross-boundary networking initiatives of youngsters, including those of 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).
5. 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.
6. Capacity building of local NGOs particularly focusing on NGO management, advanced skills in working with beneficiaries and on increasing NGOs knowledge of principles, policies and procedures related to the process of return of internally displaced people, thereby increasing their advocacy skills and potentials.
Belgrade, August / September 2003.