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08BELGRADE165 2008-02-12 17:08:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

SERBIA: REFUGEE COORDINATOR WEEKLY ACTIVITY REPORT:

Tags:   PREL PREF PGOV PHUM KV SR 
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1. (SBU) On February 6 the Ambassador met with UNHCR Representative
in Serbia Lennart Kotsalainen to discuss UNHCR humanitarian response
and preparedness in case of population movements from Kosovo into
Serbia. Kotsalainen said that signals from Kosovo thus far have
been good. He added that the GOS had been consistent in its message
to Kosovo Serbs that they should remain in Kosovo but worried that
the current calm situation could unravel quickly if the political
instability in Serbia continued. "The measures taken here could
play a role in how things develop inside Kosovo," he said. Though
he did not believe a humanitarian crisis was imminent, and he did
not expect significant movement in the first month following Kosovo
declaration of independence, Kotsalainen told the Ambassador that it
will be important to keep a close eye on developments six months
down the line. One potential problem he foresaw related to whether
Kosovo Serbs stay or leave was the length of time Kosovo Prime
Minister Thagi's government would accept parallel institutions in an
independent Kosovo.



2. (SBU) Kotsalainen said UNHCR enjoyed a close working
relationship with PRM and will continue to stay in close touch in
the coming months. He said he was not clear however on how UNHCR
could make use of the USAID-SCOPES funding mechanism would kick in
and how UNHCR could make use of SCOPES funding in case of an
emergency. The USAID Serbia Contingency Planning and Economic
Security Program (SCOPES) helps businesses grow in order to provide
employment opportunities to vulnerable populations, including
internally displaced persons. SCOPES also works with municipalities
across Serbia to become more resilient and better cope with crises
and natural disasters. The funding mechanism is not set up to
provide direct monetary contributions to UNHCR or any other
international organizations in the event of a humanitarian crisis.
Rather, a portion of funding would be channeled as in-kind support
via SCOPES implementing partners, based on a needs assessment from
UNHCR, as the situation warrants. USAID officer in charge for
SCOPES Walter Doetsch has clarified the mechanism with UNHCR.

INTEGRATING INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS IN SERBIA


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3. (SBU) Kotsalainen told the Ambassador that it will be important
to integrate the 206,144 IDPs from Kosovo in Serbia once the Kosovo
situation is resolved. He said the GOS will have to accept the
reality that most of these individuals will not return to an
independent Kosovo. He added that UNHCR is working closely with
Serbia's Commissioner for Refugees on a targeted plan to close the
62 remaining collective centers across Serbia and find housing
solutions for the approximately 4,500 IDPs who live in them.

UNHCR ORGANIZES KEY PARTNERS WORKSHOP ON KOSOVO PREPAREDNESS


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4. (SBU) On February 7, UNHCR organized a half-day closed workshop
on Kosovo emergency preparedness. Newly arrived Senior Emergency
Officer Andrei Kazakov led the session. Participants included UNDP,
UNICEF, WHO, IOM, and ICRC, as well as the Serbian Red Cross, CRS,
DRC, and DAI (SCOPES implementing partner.) Bora Tajic, Head of
Returns at the Kosovo Ministry's Coordination Center for Kosovo was
the only government representative present. His participation
signals the likelihood that the Ministry for Kosovo will have a
central role to play in the event of population movements.



5. (SBU) Donors were not invited to the session, as UNHCR felt
participation would impact the dynamics of the discussion, and could
potentially limit information sharing by GOS representatives.
Representatives from DAI, DRC, and CRS said it was overall a
well-structured and organized session. According to Deputy Director
of DAI-SCOPES Michael Pillsbury, UNHCR had expanded upon its plans
for operation centers and deployment of teams. He said the basic
structure would include an inter-agency coordination center in
Belgrade, three field offices in Kraljevo (existing), Vranje and
Novi Pazar (both out of UNDP offices), and twelve field-office based
mobile teams, which would be deployed according to workload to
boundary gates.

SERBIA'S READMISSION AGREEMENTS WITH THE EU


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6. (SBU) On February 8, the Center for Cultural Decontamination, a
local NGO and Le courier de la Serbie, a newly launched francophone
news outlet organized a conference on readmission, minorities, and
cultural diversity in Serbia. Director of the Serbian EU
Integration Office Tanja Miscevic said that Serbia's May 16, 2007
Agreement on Readmission with the EU replaced all previously signed
and ratified bilateral agreements with EU countries.

BELGRADE 00000165 002 OF 002





7. (SBU) Miscevic explained that from the legal standpoint, an
illegal migrant is any one or combination of the following: a
failed asylum seeker originating from Serbia, an individual with an
expired work or visit permission originating from Serbia, or a
third country failed asylum seeker for whom Serbia was the country
of the first asylum.



8. (SBU) According to Miscevic, there are 1.5 million illegal
migrants currently living across Europe who could be repatriated to
Serbia. This was the first time record had heard this figure and
called on Assistant Minister for Labor Bojan Andjelkovic for
clarification. He told record his estimate is closer to 150,000.
The imprecision stems partly from the lack of information from EU
governments, who themselves do not have good estimates.



9. (SBU) Miscevic said that since January 1, 2008, when the
readmission agreement entered into force, signatory countries have
identified 52 illegal migrants for repatriation.

BELGRADE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S CLUB TO TARGET CHARITABLE GIVING TO
INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS


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10. (U) Refcord was guest speaker at the Belgrade International
Women's Club February 9 monthly meeting. The group raises
approximately $100,000 per year through a variety of fundraisers and
wants to develop a targeted strategy for giving to vulnerable
populations, particularly IDPs. The group has provided in-kind
donations of food and non-food items to an unofficial collective
center in Grocka on the outskirts of Belgrade for the past nine
years. They are now considering diversifying their giving to
include a wider cross-section of IDPs. Refcord will introduce the
group to local NGOs who can provide practical advice on how to
channel their assistance to reach the greatest number of
beneficiaries.

BRUSH