OSCE Mission in Kosovo calls for increased awareness on interdependence between returns and property rights
( OSCE ) - The international community and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) have invested a large amount of resources into protecting property rights of displaced persons and sustainable returns, but further efforts are necessary to improve the process, says an OSCE Mission in Kosovo report published today.
The study notes that housing and property restitution combined with security safeguards and socio-economic development are a pre-requisite for sustainable returns and reintegration of displaced persons and refugees.
"Unfortunately, eight years after the conflict, thousands of people continue to live in unacceptable conditions of displacement in Kosovo. They have not seen any remedy against the violation of their housing and property rights and, in many cases, do not enjoy adequate housing conditions," said Henry McGowen, the Acting Head of the OSCE Mission.
About 16,000 persons have returned to Kosovo since the 1999 conflict. Thousands of others are still displaced and 10,405 residential properties belonging to these displaced remain destroyed.
The report notes the interdependence between property and returns issues and the need for a co-ordinated strategy. It also offers recommendations to all stakeholders involved in both processes.
Additionally the report suggests developing strategies and action plans centrally and locally, and calls for increased measures to protect properties from damage and unlawful occupation. It highlights the need for the Kosovo Property Agency to explain the remedies it offers to displaced property rights holders.
"Even though the PISG and the international community face big challenges to address these needs, I believe by mutual commitment and by working together, they can be resolved," said McGowen.