PRISTINA, 12 December 2007 – In line with UNMIK’s policy of transfer of competencies to the PISG, most of the competencies in voluntary returns have been transitioned by UNMIK’s Office of Communities, Returns and Minorities Affairs (OCRM) to the Government, primarily to the Ministry of Communities and Returns (MCR).

The management of the Central Review Mechanism (CRM), which reviews all voluntary return projects and other initiatives by the Municipal Working Groups (MWGs), was transferred to MCR last year. The transfer was in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Manual for Sustainable Return, which specifies that the MCR should take over functions of Chair and Secretariat of the CRM from UNMIK/OCRM and UNDP, respectively. Based on the same manual, the Chair as well as secretariat functions of the Communities Outreach and Communication Group (COCG) were handed over to the MCR.

Formed in November 2004, the COCG is mandated to implement the outreach and communication strategy regarding returns related issues, projects and activities, as well as to enhance coordination between all information providers in the returns process. MCR was also enabled to take over functions related to communities and returns, such as the planning and implementation of Community Development and Stabilization projects.

The Ministry, in consultation with international community, has approved this year 51 Community Development and Stabilization projects worth €2.08 million to facilitate equitable integration of all communities and their members currently residing in Kosovo. MCR is being assisted by UNHCR to take over functions related to data collection about the returnees. The Ministry has appointed a Returns Information Coordinator (RIC) to work with the UNHCR on the returnee registration and database.

The competency on humanitarian transportation including the budget line of € 2.675 million, was transferred to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MTC). To date, the humanitarian transport service carries an estimated 32,000 beneficiaries on trains and 25,000 beneficiaries on bus lines monthly. The service, which promotes the freedom of movement of minority communities in Kosovo, is crucial for enabling minority access to essential services, institutions, and opportunities. In line with this, UNMIK/OCRM concluded its operation as a budget organization at the end of the last fiscal year. OCRM used to manage a budget of approximately €3.7 million since September 2005, with four sub-programmes components, namely Administration, Humanitarian Transport, Support to Municipalities, and Freedom of Movement Trains.