Bosnia and Herzegovina: Broader and improved support for durable solutions required
An internally displaced Bosnian girl near Banovici, January 2008. (Photo: Reuters/ Damir Sagolj)
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31 December 2012
Generalised violence, armed conflict between Yugoslav, Croatian and Bosnian armed forces and militias and human rights violations led to the internal displacement of more than a million people during the 1992 to 1995 war, and the creation of ethnically homogenous areas within the newly formed independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of the end of 2012, it was still hosting around 103,000 IDPs.
Not all returnees have achieved a durable solution. Improved security and the prospect of being able to repossess and rebuild their homes prompted many IDPs to return, but many have experienced continued security incidents and only limited access to roads, water and electricity. Many lack health insurance and struggle to access pensions and social benefits. Only around 360 people returned during 2012.
IDPs unable or unwilling to return continue to face obstacles to local integration. Roma people in particular struggle to obtain identity documents, without which they are unable to access services, get a job or vote. More than 8,600 IDPs still live in dilapidated collective centres, many of them among the most vulnerable groups such as those with physical or mental disabilities, chronic illnesses, or no income or family support.
The government drafted new legislation in December 2012 which, after years of focusing on return, will expand support beyond IDPs' places of origin. In line with this shift, some IDPs were given new housing to help them integrate locally. Multiple donors funded a regional programme under the 2005 Sarajevo Process, to provide housing to refugees and a small number of IDPs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries in the region.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Support for IDPs rebuilding lives in new locations
Despite its historic policy of exclusively supporting the return of IDPs to their places of origin, the government in Bosnia and Herzegovina has increasingly recognised the need to assist the most vulnerable among them, who cannot or do not want to return. The Gornja Kolonija collective centre in the town of Jablanica, where more than 1,500 IDPs had taken refuge during the conflict, was closed in September 2010, after the last nine residents had been rehoused in a new four-storey block built on land provided by the Jablanica municipal authorities.
In the general elections held in early October, IDPs were able to register to vote either in the municipalities where they lived prior to 1991 (in person or by absentee ballot) or in the municipalities where they now live. Over 22,000 chose to vote in their municipalities of origin. In 2009, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated the number of IDPs in Bosnia and Herzegovina at almost 114,000.
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Internal Displacement Profile
"Causes and Background","Causes of displacement","Background"
"Population Figures and Profile","General","Global IDP Figures","Disaggregated data"
"Patterns of Displacement","General"
"Physical Security & Freedom of Movement","Physical security","Vulnerable groups","Freedom of movement"
"Subsistence Needs","General","General","Shelter and non-food items","Health","Vulnerable Groups"
"Access to Education","General","Obstacles to education"
"Issues of Self-Reliance and Public Participation","Self-reliance","Public participation"
"Documentation Needs and Citizenship","Documentation needs and legal status of minorities","Citizenship","Legal status of minorities"
"Issues of Family Unity, Identity and Culture","Family unity","Religion","National Identity"
"Property Issues","Overview of restitution process","Specific aspects"
"Patterns of Return and Resettlement","General and policy","Specific aspects ","Resettlement and local integration","Return prospects"
"National and International Responses","Background","Legal framework","International response"
Previous Profile updates
- Key Documents
- Bosnia and Herzegovina 2012 Progress Report, European Commission, 10 October 2012
- Internally displaced persons in Europe: Another lost generation?, Council of Europe, Commissioner for Human Rights, 3 September 2012
- The regional housing programme, Council of Europe Development Bank, May 2012
- Protection and Assistance for IDPs and Returnees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), February 2012
- UNHCR and Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), February 2012
- Statistics on Bosnia-Hercegovina, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), December 2011
- Joint Regional Programme on Durable Solutions for Refugees and Displaced Persons, Governments of Republic of Serbia, Republic of Croatia, Bosnian Hercegovina, and Montenegro, November 2011
- Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Following his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 27-30 November 2010, Council of Europe, Commissioner for Human Rights, 29 March 2011
- Revised Strategy of Bosnia Hercegovina for the Implementation of Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2010
- Securing durable solutions for displaced persons: The experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Erin Mooney, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), June 2008
- IDP Laws and Policies: Bosnia, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, December 2006
- Information on Realization of ‘Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Implementation of Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, December 2003
- Annex VII of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, Agreement on refugees and displaced persons, Office of the High Representative (OHR), 14 December 1995
- Annex VI of the General Framework Agreement for Peace, Agreement on human rights, Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe, Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (OSCE BIH), 14 December 1995