The first phase of a EUR 15 million programme to provide housing for refugees in Serbia was recently concluded at a colourful ceremony held in Belgrade. Known as the Settlement and Integration of Refugees Programme (SIRP) the initiative that ran from 2004-2008 and financed by the governmemt of Italy and implemented by UN-HABITAT has provided some 670 new homes for 3,000 refugees and vulnerable people.
It has also built institutional capacities for social housing development, assisted the social and economic integration of refugees and displaced people, and helped boost the development capacity of local governments in their development planning and municipal information systems. The programme provided tools and methodologies in the frame of the process of EU integration of Serbia.
The next phase which is about to start – The Settlement and Intergrated Local development Programme – will take stock of lessons learnt to further support institutional and capacity development for local development, including housing, in Serbia, but also to nurture similar process in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina within their respective national contexts.
Among those who attended the closure ceremony held at the Palazzo Italia included the Minister for Environment and Spatial Planning Mr. Oliver Dulic, the Ambassador of Italy Alessandro Merola, UN-HABITAT Director for the Regional and Technical Cooperation, Mr. Daniel Biau, as well as mayors and SIRP partners from the cities of Cacak, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Nis, Pancevo, Stara Pazova, and Valjevo.
The highlights of the ceremony included the presentation of the SIRP book that captures what the programme has meant and tried to be for the Serbian people and institutions – a structured and honest development initiative; the SIRP Awards delivered to the actors of change and development from the different cities, for their contributions to the achievements of the Programme and the SIRP Film, giving a word to the real players of the Programme and seeking to capture what has been done on the ground, through the viewpoint and judgment of the refugees and other beneficiaries.