The NRC/IDMC report highlights the situation of Kosovo IDPs.


“In Serbia and in Macedonia, there was no significant change in the reported number of IDPs, with some 227,000 IDPs  in Serbia (excluding Kosovo), 21,000 in Kosovo and 790 in Macedonia at the year’s end.

The EU enlargement division concluded in 2007 that almost no progress had been made on return of IDPs in Kosovo and that “the return process remains a major challenge ahead, politically, institutionally and also financially”.

In Serbia, the government was hesitant to allow IDPs from Kosovo to permanently settle in Serbia proper before the status of Kosovo was finalised, for fear of reducing their claim over Kosovo, though the Council of Europe warned that IDPs in Serbia “should not be held hostage to future political settlements”.


In most other countries, returnees faced risks to their physical security. In Kosovo and to a lesser extent in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they continued to endure ethnically-motivated attacks and intimidation.

Violence and intimidation in Kosovo continued to discourage IDPs from travelling outside their area of displacement. Kosovo Serbs in particular tended to live in enclaves surrounded by Albanian neighbourhoods, making it difficult for some to access local services such as law courts or health clinics. When IDPs did travel, it was often between enclaves and using humanitarian buses run by the Kosovo authorities to facilitate movements of members of minority groups.

Some could not replace lost or destroyed documents. In Serbia and Azerbaijan, IDPs had to approach their “municipality in exile” to access the records they needed from their original place of residence, which often entailed costly travel. For IDPs in Serbia, certain documents were only available on request in Kosovo, where most were unable or unwilling to go; those who applied to Kosovo authorities to have employment records, driving licenses or university diplomas reissued encountered a mixed response, especially as some records had been destroyed or lost. The lack of mutual recognition of documents between Serbia and Kosovo represented an additional obstacle for IDPs to avail themselves of their rights.

Roma IDPs from Kosovo faced particular obstacles with regard to documentation. Some 20 to 40 per cent never had proof of their identity or residence before their displacement, and had to initiate costly procedures in order to be registered. Living in informal settlements without legal residence or identification, Roma IDPs could not acquire an IDP card to register new births, apply for citizenship and access health care, social benefits, employment and education. The lack of documentation also presented the risk of statelessness in an independent Kosovo for those who could not prove their link with Kosovo when applying for citizenship. The Office of the Prime Minister in Kosovo made recommendations to ease Roma’s access to documents, but their implementation was uneven.

To access free health care services IDPs in Serbia had to present a health certificate. To get this certificate they had to present their IDPs identity card, for which they needed a personal identification card, temporary residence registration, and proof of their residence before 1999. Thus many could not access health care or other assistance and services. Less than half of Roma IDPs have health certificates, and access to health care is a serious problem for many Roma IDPs in Serbia due to a range of cultural and procedural barriers.

… in Kosovo, minority IDPs often had to rely on the limited facilities situated in their enclave. Kosovo Serbs largely relied on parallel institutions operating on the territory of Kosovo under the de facto authority of Serbia to meet their needs in terms of documents, education, health care and justice.

the unemployment rate … of the Serbian community in Kosovo at 70 per cent.


Unemployment of returnees was most pronounced in Turkey, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo.

Parallel education systems and curriculums were organised in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Georgia, which often discouraged ethnic integration.

Restitution of property in the Balkans had largely been completed by 2007, but in many cases did not result in the return of IDPs to their original homes.


In Serbia, the Kosovo Housing and Property Directorate (HPD) resolved almost all of the 29,000 claims from Kosovo Serbs displaced into Serbia proper before its closure in mid-2007, but only 18 per cent of applicants opted to return to their property.

Although donor support continued to wane in 2007, governments continued to take responsibility for their internal displacement situations, and several governments worked to facilitate returns. In Kosovo, the government established municipal safety councils, continued implementing community and “go and see” visits, and for the majority of returns, rebuilt the returnees’ homes.”

April 2007

The full text of the report is available here.