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Regularization of Informal IDP Settlements in Kosovo: The Case of the Roma Mahala in Mitrovice/a Barbara McCallin The Roma Mahala case study is an example.

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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 The Roma Mahala case study is an example."— Presentation transcript:

1 Regularization of Informal IDP Settlements in Kosovo: The Case of the Roma Mahala in Mitrovice/a
Barbara McCallin The Roma Mahala case study is an example of how an informal settlement destroyed as a result of the 1999 Kosovo conflict was regularised and reconstructed as a result of joint efforts by the municipality and the international community. This project allowed for the return of numerous people who had been displaced by the conflict. Before entering into the details of the practice I’ll introduce the specific issues and context in which IDMC operates as it may be different from your everyday practice and can explain our approach to the topic or regularisation. Next slide

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 What is IDMC? IDMC monitors situation of internal displacement created by conflict and natural disasters worldwide and advocates for the rights of internally displaced persons. It maintains a website providing information on these various situations and contributes to the development of guidance and standards on the provision of assistance and protection to IDPs. What are IDPs? Relevance of housing for IDPs: The protection of their house is the first thing IDP lose upon their displacement Informal settlements and IDPs Displacement supposes loss of home and shelter and usually results in inadequate housing conditions in camps or informal settlements often in urban areas where IDPs join ranks of urban poors and aggravate limited access to services. Hope of livelihood opportunity and safety of towns from effect of conflict. Regularisation as a measure to achieve durable solutions and prevent further displacement Facilitates DS as it causes minimal disruption to the patterns of daily life and social and economic networks a community has developed / coping mechanisms IDPs have established during their displacement / return: important to regularise and upgrade living conditions (take opportunity of possible destruction to improve living conditions and infrastructure) Regularisation can also be a way to prevent displacement for those living in informal settlements by reducing the risk of forced evictions And a way to avoid secondary displacement for IDPs who joined an existing informal settlements. For IDPs were already living in an informal settlement prior to their flight, regularization in the place of origin can address what may have been one of the factors that put the IDP at risk of displacement in the first place. The Roma Mahala case is an example of regularisation of informal settlements in support of return. Case identified as part of an IDMC project to collect good practices that have improved adequate housing in urban settings and supported DS for IDPs. Looking at examples which have a potential to be replicated in other contexts Projects looks at housing practices project in urban settings: humanitarians getting involved in urban planning: bridge gap in expertise Interesting to hear the participants feedback and questions on some aspects of this project. How does it compare to other regularisation projects (non conflict)

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) The Roma Mahala case study is an example of how an informal settlement destroyed as a result of the 1999 Kosovo conflict was regularised and reconstructed as a result of joint efforts by the municipality and the international community. This project allowed for the return of numerous people who had been displaced by the conflict. Picture shows some of the chararacteristics of the situation and location of the settlement: destruction as result of conflict, very close to the centre and the river separating N Mitrovica from S Mitrovica. Also shows before and after aspect of settlement. We thought is was an interesting case to present because: it presents similarities with other situations of regularisations in non-conflict contexts (the lack of documentation, the presence of marginalised groups, the increasing value of urban land playing against formalisation for marginalised groups) but also Specific characteristics related to the post-conflict and humanitarian context and displacement situation in which the example takes place

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). Present map first: location of Mitrovica and political context of the divided town : North majority Serb and South majority Albanian. Roma Mahala at the edge, by the river. Roma displaced in north but originally settled in south of town. During the past 100 years of existence of the settlement, its occupation by Roma was not contested by authorities. Ownership in Roma Mahala: over 2/3 of settlement informal on public land and 1/3 privately owned 4.1 hectares (335 parcels) privately-owned land 9.4 hectares (418 parcels) municipal or socially owned land

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 100 families or 500 individuals from Roma Mahala were displaced in the 4 camps situated in Northern Mitrovica. When IDPs settled in these camps, they were told by authorities and the international community that this would only be temporary, however they were still there 5 years after. Paradoxically, a health emergency accelerated national and international response in favour of the return of former inhabitants of Roma Mahala. Above: Cesmin Luc IDP camp, To the right: Osterode temporary evacuation camp, 2009 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)

7 A Medical Crisis Galvanizes Action
Show the mountain of toxic mining waste leading to lead contamination

8 The Response The Crisis
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 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 Crisis: Although mountain of toxic waste contaminating the whole part of town next to it Roma were more seriously affected by lead contamination because of: Their inadequate type of housing (no concrete floors in houses and streets which makes cleaning of lead dust more difficult) Their practice to smelt lead from batteries as a source of income Pregnant and lactating women as well as children were seriously affected including with mental disabilities and serious diseases as a result of their exposure to lead. Refusal of Roma to move to other temporary sites where they were worried to be forgotten and health scandal denounced by Roma and human rights NGOs led international community to propose a reconstruction and return project to Roma Mahala. This was supported by a consultation with Roma leaders who on 21 February 2005, were unanimous in stating that they wanted to return to Roma mahala. Sounds easy on this slide but the process was actually rather complicated to implement Before the RRMP: UNMIK recognized that it was facing a medical emergency and created a Lead Emergency Steering Committee (LESC) chaired by the Acting Regional Representative for Mitrovicë/a, with the participation of various UNMIK offices as well as OSCE, WHO, UNHCR, and NGOs. The LESC pursued a three track policy: (1) risk management to mitigate the lead contamination in the camps; (2) economic development – to look into alternative income ventures for the Roma – so that they would discontinue their dangerous practice of smelting batteries; and (3) finding a site to which an emergency evacuation could be effected in safety, where the RAE could safely remain until they could return to their homes. RRMP:To be implemented in two phases: First phase: planning begun 2005, construction begun 2006 – October 2007 Second phase: 2007 – ongoing (until 2013 / 2014, contingent on funding)

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) New land (3 ha) given by the municipality to former Roma Mahal residents in exchange of land by the river bank exposed to floodings and where municipality envisages to establish a public park of 2 hectares. Another 5 hectares were given later to allow for additional constructions: total of 8 ha of municipal land given. Apartments in (2-3 story apt. blocks, 12 units each) made available to residents of the RM that had previously been living on municipal land (were informal settlers)

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 Coordination structure South Mitrovica Authorities Office of Return and Communities (UNMIK) OSCE UNHCR Donors NGOs (Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Danish Refugee Council) Roma representatives 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) Involvement of both international community and national authorities to reach an agreement. Institutional setting linked to post-conflict situation and to the role and powers devoted to the international community in Kosovo in relation to the implementation of the UN Security Council decision 1244 (1999) on Kosovo Explains heavy involvement of IC in coordination structure and implementation Involvement in relation to their expertise and mandate and problems encountered in implementation of the project: Legal unit dealing with: Civil registration: Lack of ownership documentation/ access to cadastral records but also personal documentation necessary to be selected and included in project Confirmation of private property status Details of the regularisation of informal settlements Community development: Address concerns of IDPs regarding livelihood opportunities in RM (community development) Consultation and participation of Roma IDPs to the project

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 Kosovo’s aspiration to independence Opposition from Municipality: Roma Mahala’s existence was not contested before the conflict: when it was build it was in the outskirt of town but with the urban expansion of Mitrovica it ended up being in a prime urban location hence resistance from authorities to rebuild a Roma settlement where they could have made more profit allocating municipal land to commercial businesses. Discrimination against Roma, no with to have them in South Mitrovica Roma considered by many Kosovo Albanian as collaborators to the Serbs during the conflict Opposition from the Roma: Security concerns if return to the South, aggravated by 2004 riots against Roma and Serbs Fear to lose access to employment they have in North Mitrovica Fear to lose social benefits in N Mitrovica Pressure from Roma diaspora (sending remittances) not to return otherwise they might be deported back to Kosovo if return proven to be safe Mandate of the IC in Kosovo granted it huge power of influence on Kosovo provisional authorities (PISG) in general and in relation to return of IDPs UN Security Council decisions grants UNMIK executive powers to implement its resolutions on Kosovo status UN SC resolutions confirms the right of all displaced by the conflict to return (supports right to return in context of Roma Mahala and help oppose plans of municipality to relocate Roma outside of Roma Mahala) UNMIK established the Kosovo standards that PISG have to fulfill on different topics before discussion on the political status of Kosovo can be initiated (standard include include right to return and regularisation of informal settlements, standard 6) All the above mentioned factors helped overcome local municipal resistance for the greater interest of Kosovo national authorities.

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 Once the main political and practical obstacles were solved, the project developed a comprehensive approach around the regularisation of Roma Mahala informal settlement. Conscious effort made by implementers of the project to provide not only a roof but adequate housing and an environment conducive to sustainable return Affordability: existence of commercial business on ground floor to pay for maintenance cost of buildings Tenure security: 99 year lease, but no ownership Access to employment/ promotion of economic activities: commercial office space on ground floor of buildings, use of local materials and IDPs for various activities (rubble clearing, reconstruction) Cultural adequacy: participation of Roma to house design: opposition to flats but compromise (storage space, common space, separate stairs for entrance) Vocational training and income-generating programmes were included (largely to ween Roma off of smelting batteries for income) but were not always successful, because of community reluctance to embrace new income-generating activities. Women employed in kindergarden Social infrastructure: school, health centre, community centre, community development projects Improved infrastructure: sewage system and electricity which benefited to other non-roma neighbourhood Legal assistance: free legal aid by UNHCR implementing partner, including assisting in civil registration and improving rights and access to services UNHCR and its implementing partners are monitoring the impact of the practice on the returnee population as well as on the displaced population of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities. Monitoring:

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 Housing reconstruction: In 2007: constructed 46 private housing units for 178 persons reconstructed by DRC for those families who used to own private property six apartment buildings for 72 families/377 persons on land allocated by municipality to informal settlers reconstructed by Norwegian Church Aid 116 row houses by Mercy Corps (since 2010) The selection of beneficiaries was conducted by the Municipal Selection Commission in which UNHCR (along with UNMIK and OSCE) played a very active supporting/guiding role

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 Municipality gave 3.4 ha for reconstruction of site in 2005 and an additional 5 hectares of land in 2009 for the construction of row houses for the Mercy Corps (USAID and EU) project. Occupancy rate: Some 13 families out of 72 have sold the NCA apartments and 2 families/12 individuals have sold the private houses, and they either moved elsewhere or returned to their places of displacement. This is a good occupancy rate Since the social housing flats cannot be sold this happened informally… going back to informal situation… This partly reflects the cultural factor that apartment buildings are not generally preferred by Roma, but also the economic reasons for some people who had better job opportunities in the place of displacement. The project is currently constructing an apartment building in north Mitrovica for the remaining protection families who cannot move south.  5 families remaining in Osterode An additional eight row houses are planned for construction for residents from the Leposavic camp.  If the EU grants Mercy Corps an additional grant to close Leposavic, additional houses will be built in 2013 and 2014.

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 2nd 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 Lessons learned: Good precedent: The structures for coordination, land allocation and construction of housing units can be replicated in other situations.

17 Questions?

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