On 19 June 2021 the keys to the new apartments were delivered to 60 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. The action is part of the Regional Housing Program, a multiyear joint program funded by different donors and national budgets since 2012. The building is located next to the Railway station in Loznica, and comprises 60 apartments ranging from 30m2 to 60m2.
In the same neighbourhood another building was completed in April 2019 providing durable solutions for 30 families. In total thus far the city of Loznica, together with the Commissariat for refugees and migration and the Regional Housing Program, has provided new homes for 388 refugee families. The City also made a contribution by providing the required infrastructure worth 20 million dinars.
“I’m happy and honoured to thank you from the bottom of my heart in the name of all 60 families, who will finally have a roof over their heads as of today. My thanks go to all who contributed to the Regional Housing Programme,” said Nataša Topo, speaking on behalf of the refugee families.
Recalling her flight to Loznica as a child almost 30 years ago, and her years growing up and raising her own family in her new hometown, Nataša Topo was relieved to be able to put down secure roots at long last. “With this new flat, we will be able to settle down permanently,” she smiled, adding that she also wished to thank Dragan Stanic, a local trustee for refugees in the municipality of Loznica, for his support and friendship over the years. This was followed by great applause from the future tenants, showing how important the local response is to integration programs.
In addition to the beneficiaries themselves, the ceremony was attended by Vidoje Petrović, Mayor of Loznica; Dirk Lorenz, Head of the Political Section at the European Union Delegation to Serbia; Richard Kohli, Head of the Swiss Cooperation Office of the Swiss Embassy to Serbia; Vladimir Cucić, Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and Migration; Ružica Banda, National Human Rights Officer at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia, and Stefanie Krause, Senior Durable Solutions Officer at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Representation in Serbia, amongst others.
Congratulating the beneficiaries on their new homes, on behalf of the EU – the largest donor to the RHP – Mr Lorenz observed that the RHP was another key example of solidarity between the EU community and people in need in the Western Balkans. “The EU is a devoted partner to Serbia in providing durable solutions, and this event today is the result of both the great efforts and the dedication of international and local partners,” he said.
Mr Kohli underlined the importance of the RHP for the region, noting that Switzerland, another key RHP donor, had participated in the Programme since its launch in 2012. Commending Serbia for its recent acceleration of implementation, even at the time of covid, he found it very encouraging to witness close to 100 families moving into their new homes in the last two weeks. . Mr. Kohli reiterated Switzerland’s commitment to the RHP, stressing its importance for the sustainable reintegration of refugees and overall regional cooperation and reconciliation.
The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) was established to provide durable housing solutions for vulnerable refugees and displaced persons following the 1991-1995 conflicts on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The RHP is implemented by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia and mostly financed by the international donor community. The main donor is the European Union. The other donors are the United States of America, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Luxembourg, Spain, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak Republic.
More information about the Regional Housing Program can be found here.