UN House Inaugurated
On 5th July, the United Nations House was officially opened in Sarajevo. The UN House was inaugurated by Miss Helen Clark, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator and Chair of the UN Development Group and Mr. Bakir Izetbegović, Member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency. Numerous representatives of government institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, international organisations, and many ambassadors to Bosnia and Herzegovina attended the ceremony.
In her address, Miss Clark underscored the commitment of all the United Nations Agencies to join their efforts with those of the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities in the development of the country, as well as to strengthen co-operation between governmental institutions in BiH and the United Nations.
"All UN agencies want to support the development and progress of BiH. The opening of the UN House represents a symbolic act of strengthening the co-operation between the BiH Government and the UN. With this effort we also wish to support local and international partners in realising their objectives, i.e. promoting rule of law, local development, increasing energy efficiency, as well as seeking a lasting solution for refugees and displaced persons," she said.
Following the opening ceremony, Miss Clark attended the signing of the Joint Declaration on Resolving Protracted Displacement in BiH, which addresses the issue of Refugees, IDPs and Collective Centre residents in BiH.
Signatories to the Declaration were BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, Mr. Damir Ljubić, Federal Minister of Displaced Persons and Refugees, Mr. Adil Osmanović, Minister for Displaced Persons and Refugees of Republika Srpska, Mr. Davor Čordaš, the UN Resident Coordinator in BiH Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, Head of Operations of the European Union Delegation in BiH Mr. Holger Schroeder and UNHCR Representative in BiH Mr. Andrew Mayne.
Under the Declaration, the signatories confirmed their commitment to solving the problem of protracted displacement in BiH once and for all, through co-operation and co-ordination, mutual support and joint programmes.
Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator in BiH stressed that, although 18 years have passed since the end of the war, over 100,000 people are still considered displaced persons in BiH, and over 8,500 continue to reside in collective accommodation centres.
“We shall be using this Declaration as a reference point in order to sustain development in places where people from collective accommodation centres will live, after they have been provided with housing,” said Yuri Afanasiev, emphasising that the people in question represent the most marginalised group of society, and that their problems cannot be solved simply by reconstructing houses; it is also necessary to ensure the appropriate conditions exist in the communities to which they are returning.
Mr. Holger Schroeder noted that BiH, EU and the United Nations are jointly investing in efforts to ensure a solution for displaced persons.
“In this process it is necessary to provide legal aid to displaced persons, to provide education, employment and social inclusion. Sustainable return will depend on the economic development of the local communities where the returnees live. International and local partners should assume aligned roles in this process,” Mr. Schroeder concluded.
UNDP Administrator Miss Clark officially handed over a new UN Project Document to BiH Authorities, which is a first direct contribution to the signed Declaration. The project documentation details the joint project of BiH authorities and four of the UN Agencies (UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF, and IOM), and is designed to apply the concept of human security in order to stabilise communities in Canton 10. The Project is valued at USD 5 million and is funded by the UN Human Security Trust Fund and BiH Authorities.
In addition to the opening ceremony of the UN House and the signing of the Declaration, during her three-day visit to BiH Miss Clark met with Mr. Bakir Izetbegović, Member of the BiH Presidency, Mr. Zlatko Lagumdžija, BiH Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska, Ms. Željka Cvijanović, Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, Mr. Nermin Nikšić, Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH, Mr. Peter Sorensen, Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and Special Representative of EU, and other senior officials and diplomats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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