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UN To Assist Thousands Of European Refugees

UN and development bank partner to assist thousands of European refugees

31 October 2008 – The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) have partnered to find durable housing, education and health solutions for thousands of European refugees, displaced people and returnees.

Signed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antònio Guterres and CEB Governor Raphaël Alomar in Geneva, the agreement seeks to help those uprooted under UNHCR’s mandate – primarily in European countries hosting large displaced populations, such as Georgia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Under the new arrangement, the CEB will consider financing selected UNHCR projects through grants and loans.

Dating back to 1999, the CEB-UNHCR relationship began when the Bank provided emergency water filtration plants and transport for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kosovo.

The CEB has since provided €3 million to UNHCR to support programmes aimed at sustainable returns in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as housing and assistance for refugees leaving collective centres in Serbia.

Just last month, the Bank also announced funding for UNHCR’s operations in Georgia to provide shelter for the newly displaced population from South Ossetia.

“The successful cooperation between the CEB and UNHCR represents an outstanding example of how to bridge the gap between humanitarian assistance and long-term development activities and sets a model that UNHCR is keen to replicate with other international financial institutions and development actors,” said UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond.

ENDS

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