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Regularization of Informal IDP Settlements in Kosovo: The Case of the Roma Mahala in Mitrovice/a Barbara McCallin.

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Presentation on theme: "Regularization of Informal IDP Settlements in Kosovo: The Case of the Roma Mahala in Mitrovice/a Barbara McCallin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Regularization of Informal IDP Settlements in Kosovo: The Case of the Roma Mahala in Mitrovice/a Barbara McCallin

2 IDPs and Informal Settlements What is an Internally displaced persons (IDP)? IDPs are persons who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of violent conflict, natural disasters, or human rights violations but have not crossed an international border. The relevance of housing for IDPs – homes are destroyed, occupied or inaccessible to them – Shelter found is often precarious and inadequate (camps or urban informal settlements) – Risk of forced evictions and renewed displacement as a result of living in informal settlements Tenure security and regularization as a durable solutions to displacement – Regularisation increases tenure security and limits the risk of forced evictions which provides a starting point for IDPs to rebuild their lives – In support of local integration – In support of return Regularisation as a measure to prevent displacement IDMC good practices project on adequate housing and DS in urban settings

3 Case Study: Kosovo – Roma Mahala An example of regularization of an informal settlement at the place of origin = Return to the Roma Mahala Project (RRMP)

4 The Roma Mahala: Pre-1999 A 100 year old informal settlement of Roma Ashkali Egyptians (RAE) located in Southern Mitrovice/a municipality One of the largest Roma communities in Southern Europe hosting a total of 8,000 individuals in 650 households on 13.5 hectares of land 30 % privately-owned land 70 % hectares on municipal or socially owned land Roma Mahala was completely destroyed in 1999 The Roma Mahala was the largest urban area in the former Yugoslavia that had still not been rebuilt after the conflicts of the 1990s (true up until the year 2005 – 2006).

5 Destruction of the Roma Mahala

6 Situation of Roma During Displacement Conflict in 1999 displaced Roma inhabitants: Those with means fled Kosovo Many of those who lacked means fled North of the Ibar River and were settled in temporary camps in Northern Mitrovice – 4 camps in particular: Cesmin Lug and Kablar (in the Mitrovicë/a municipality), Žitkovac/Zhikoc (Zvečan/Zveçan municipality) Leposavić/q 70% of the four northern Mitrovice/a camp and collective centre residents originated from the Roma Mahala (approx. 110 families (499 individuals), mostly informal settlers) Above: Cesmin Luc IDP camp, To the right: Osterode temporary evacuation camp, 2009

7 A Medical Crisis Galvanizes Action

8 The Crisis July 2004 WHO releases findings of dangerously elevated blood lead levels (BLL) in Roma camp inhabitants and demands urgent action. Vicinity of Cesmin Lug camp in proximity to Trepca mines are contaminated Concentration of IDPs originating from Roma Mahala and reluctance of Roma to evacuate to temporary third sites means rebuilding the Mahala is the best realistic and most sustainable solution The Response Return to Roma Mahala Project (RRMP) launched in 2005 Institutional Response Process Multi-facetted project in support of adequate housing and DS Result: over 1000 returnees to 236 reconstructed housing units

9 The Roma Mahala 2005 Agreement Signed between the Mitrovice/a Municipality and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with UNHCR and OSCE as witnesses Principles: – All former residents of Roma Mahala can return (regardless of tenure type) – Return should be voluntary – Destroyed houses on privately owned land will be reconstructed in the same location – Residents of the Western part of Roma Mahala living on municipal land will receive housing within Roma Mahala but not necessarily exactly in the same place as before – Those living in the Eastern part of the settlements will receive housing on land given by the municipality in an area adjacent to RM – IDPs who were informal settlers would be given apartments in small buildings with a 99 year lease (regularisation)

10 Map of different zones of land ownership in the Roma Mahala Green – municipality owned land Blue – private property Red – KTA administered land

11 Institutional setting and coordination Actors South Mitrovica Authorities Office of Return and Communities (UNMIK) OSCE UNHCR Donors NGOs (Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Danish Refugee Council) Roma representatives Coordination structure A steering group was set up: – Led by UNMIK – Co-chaired by the Municipality and by the Ministry of Communities and Returns – 3 working groups: Legal / protection (UNHCR and Mitrovice/a Municipality) Community development (OSCE) Technical implementation (UNMIK)

12 A difficult process Political obstacles at local level: – Initial opposition from the Municipality – Opposition from the Roma Practical obstacles –No access to cadastral records, loss or lack of ownership and personal documentation But strong determination from the internal community and political environment conducive to compromise – Executive powers of UNMIK – Kosovos aspiration to independence

13 A multi-dimensional approach Tenure security Affordability Cultural adequacy: participation of Roma Access to services: sewage Access to social infrastructure: – Health centre – School, kindergarden, catch up classes Access to livelihood opportunities Legal assistance

14 Housing Designs private houses for those families who used to own private property Apartment for those who used to live in informally on municipal land Row houses built by Mercy Corps beginning in 2010 for those who used to live in informally on municipal land

15 Achievements 236 housing units for over 1000 Roma returnees and 8 families of Kosovo Albanians accommodated in the following types of housing (Source: UNHCR, 2012) The vast majority of housing units are occupied by the beneficiaries and in good condition. Contaminated camp of Cesmin Lug has been closed This practice set a starting point for the large-scale return of Roma to and within Kosovo. Monitoring ongoing to assess sustainability of return but good so far

16 Lessons learned The influence and binding powers of the IC in some post-conflict situations can be instrumental in addressing obstacles to regularisation project due to economic considerations or discrimination against marginalised groups The wide coordination process, which requires the involvement of local and central authorities, international organizations as well as the displaced and the receiving communities ensured a comprehensive approach and the success of regularisation and return The participation of Roma was key in improving the project (objection to appartment buildings led to design of row houses for 2 nd phase of the project) and ensuring their ownership over it The practice set a good precedent for finding durable solution for IDPs in other informal settlements of Kosovo and elsewhere

17 Questions?

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