An international donor conference held on Tuesday in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo secured only part of the estimated 500 million euros needed to fund a five-year program to support thousands of Balkan refugees and displaced people, regional media reported.
The United Nations has estimated that 583 million euros are needed to help the 74,000 people most seriously affected by the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina – the parts of former Yugoslavia where most of the refugees live – said they were ready to allocate altogether 83 million euros over five years to address their needs.
Another 500 million euros were planned to be secured during Tuesday’s conference, which involved 25 countries and organizations, but only 300 million euros have been promised.
The European Commission, which agreed to allocate 230 million euros to support the refugees, became the biggest single donor. The United Stats will contribute another 10 million euros, while Switzerland, Norway and Italy will allocate 5 milion euros each. Other donors will make smaller contributions.
Damir Ljubic, Bosnia's minister for human rights and refugees, expressed confidence on Tuesday that the approved five-year program will be fulfilled despite the current lack of funds.
When asked by journalists where the lacking 200 million euros will come from, he said the European Union had provided guarantees that the funds would be allocated.
Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, said he would continue negotiations with donor states to persuade them to provide the lacking funds.
Solving the refugee problem is among the main conditions for Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the European Union.