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Consolidation of peace and reconciliation requires durable solutions for the internally displaced related to the Kosovo* conflict

GENEVA (22 October 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, urged the Government of Serbia and the authorities in Kosovo to cooperate and discharge their primary responsibility for implementing long-lasting solutions for IDPs in Serbia and Kosovo.

“The time is now conducive to implement durable solutions, after 15 years of protracted displacement,” Mr. Beyani said at the end of an official visit to the country. “Both the Government of Serbia and the authorities in Kosovo should show political leadership to work towards the implementation of durable solutions for internally displaced persons.”

The international human rights expert stressed that both the Government of Serbia and the authorities in Kosovo, together with the international community, should redouble their efforts to solve the problems of IDPs in the context of the European Union accession framework, which lays out the plans for negotiations for EU membership.

There are still about 97,000 IDPs displaced from Kosovo with continued displacement related needs, according to a joint IDP needs assessment from 2011, carried out by the Serbian authorities and the UNHCR. Among this population in need, there are thousands of Roma IDPs who are the most vulnerable and have specific needs and protection concerns, particularly documentation, residency requirements, and access to social services.

“The key to attaining durable solutions in both areas lies in providing durable housing for all IDPs linked with livelihoods, particularly income generation activities, employment, health, education, water and energy,” Mr. Beyani said. After 14 years of displacement, many children and families are rooted in their places of displacement, despite often precarious economic circumstances.

“The most immediate need is to improve the livelihoods of IDPs in their current location and to provide them with adequate services particularly electricity and energy as the winter approaches,” the UN Special Rapporteur noted, welcoming the fact that “there is greater openness to consider local integration as a durable solution, alongside return where possible, and resettlement.”

Other issues to address in this context, he explained, include “the effective resolution of property disputes, recovery, where possible, of property in places of origin and effective compensation where the property cannot be recovered.”

The Special Rapporteur also urged the Government of Serbia and authorities of Kosovo to cooperate with regard to the registration of eligible internally displaced persons as voters and ensure their participation in local elections this year and in the parliamentary elections next year.

While thanking the Government of Serbia and the authorities in Kosovo for inviting him, the Special Rapporteur commended them for their positive efforts, willingness and commitment to find durable solutions for the IDPs once and for all.

The Special Rapporteur’s four-day visit took him to Belgrade and Pristina, where he met with representatives from the Government, authorities of the institutions of Kosovo, the UN, and civil society among others. He also visited various sites of displacement and met with displaced persons and local authorities.

Mr. Beyani will present a comprehensive report on his visit to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity Lear more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

(*) Reference to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244.

UN Human Rights – Serbia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/RSIndex.aspx

Check the Kampala Convention: http://www.unhcr.org/4ae9bede9.html

For more information and media requests, please contact Caroline Vieira (+41 22 917 9248 / cvieira@ohchr.org) or write to idp@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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