[JURIST] UN Special Raporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) Chaloka Beyani [official profile] urged [press release] the government of Serbia and authorities in Kosovo [official websites] on Tuesday to cooperate and discharge their primary responsibility for applying lasting solutions for IDPs in Serbia and Kosovo. “The time is now conducive to implement durable solutions, after 15 years of protracted displacement,” Beyani stated after an official visit to the region, stressing the need for the Serbian government, authorities of Kosovo and the international community to increase their efforts to address these issues in the context of the EU accession framework. According to a joint IDP needs assessment from 2011, which was carried out by the Serbian authorities and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website], there are still approximately 97,000 IDPs displaced from Kosovo with continued needs related to their displacement. Beyani identified the key to attaining durable solutions in both areas to be “in providing durable housing for all IDPs linked with livelihoods, particularly income generation activities, employment, health, education, water, and energy,” and the most immediate need to be the improvement of the livelihoods of IDPs as well as the provision of electricity and energy with the winter approaching.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo [JURIST report] have remained high since Kosovo declared itself an independent nation, due in part to Serbia’s continued refusal to recognize it as such. Kosovo’s parliament approved a Declaration of Independence [text; JURIST report] in 2008, an action immediately denounced as illegal by the Serbian government. In 2010 the Serbian National Assembly passed a resolution [JURIST report] that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo as an independent nation, stressing the need to maintain Serbian sovereignty in the region. This declaration came only a week after the International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence did not violate international law.