DSRSG Robert Sorenson (right) meets Burim Berisha, Mayor of
Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje
Fitim Selimi, Deputy Mayor of Lipjan/Lipljane,
signs handover documents to accept UNMIK's donation
Branimir Stojanović, Graçanicë/Gracanica Mayor, receives
a vehicle donated by UNMIK
Agron Kuçi, Mayor of Junik/Junik, with an UNMIK-donated vehicle
DSRSG Robert Sorenson presents Salim Jenuzi, Dragash/Dragaš Mayor, with a vehicle
Arif Bütüç, Mamushë/Mamușa/Mamuša Mayor, accepts
a donated vehicle from UNMIK
Dragan Jablanović, Leposaviq/Leposavić Mayor, with a vehicle that
UNMIK donated to his municipality
DSRSG Robert Sorenson hands over car keys to Haki Kasumi, head of Kosovo’s missing persons association
Donating a car to Svetislav Ivanovic, Mayor of Novobrdë/Novobrdo
Fifteen years on, Kosovo's communities can still feel the post-conflict effects. Internally displaced persons were among those hardest hit by the turmoil that enveloped the region. In response, UNMIK has been donating its vehicles to the people of Kosovo – to assist those still in need while improving the capabilities of municipalities and other organisations to help those marginalised by the conflict.
In January, UNMIK’s Office of Community Support and Facilitation (OCSF) launched a campaign of donations. The initiative was set in motion in order to assist the Municipal Offices for Communities and Returns (MOCRs) in their efforts to aid non-majority communities, and its recipients were selected following feedback from daily field visits conducted by UNMIK staff from both the Pejë/Peć office and the Pristina headquarters. Between December 2013 and January 2014, a total of 22 vehicles were donated to municipalities, NGOs and community-based organisations both north and south of the Ibër/Ibar River.
During the handover ceremonies, UNMIK Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) Robert Sorenson congratulated newly elected and re-elected mayors, and renewed UNMIK’s commitment to continue cooperating with the municipalities in achieving development through the participation of all communities. “I sincerely believe one of the things that make Kosovo so unique and such a treasure is diversity,” he said. “It’s a hard job and hopefully we can help make it a little easier.”
In Novobërdë/Novo Brdo, DSRSG Sorenson met with Mayor Svetislav Ivanović and highlighted the importance of the mayor’s initiative to tackle unemployment and encourage equal opportunities for members of all communities in the municipality. “We do what we can to assist in the positive development of issues,” said DSRSG Sorenson. “In this regard, if this vehicle allows the municipality to reach communities, then we are very pleased to be able to help.”
“This is a very important donation for us,” said the mayor of Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje, Burim Berisha. UNMIK presented a contribution to assist
in the municipality’s continued support for IDP families.
In Lipjan/Lipljan, Deputy Mayor Fitim Selimi underscored the cooperative nature of UNMIK’s efforts, stating that “together we will continue to work and build whatever is needed for Kosovo.”
“This is the best gift you could have given,” said the new Mayor of Graçanicë/Gračanica, Branimir Stojanović, during the DSRSG’s recent visit to the municipality, “as we do not have one vehicle for public services.” The DSRSG elaborated on the importance of MOCRs in Kosovo in assisting returnees, amongst others, in their resettlement and reintegration into Kosovo life.
“In our daily activities in the field, we see first-hand where the need is greatest,” noted Abedin Lataj, an OCSF Programme Assistant, highlighting the importance of supporting the MOCRs.
During the DSRSG’s visit to Junik/Junik, Mayor Agron Kuçi spoke of the importance of preserving the municipality’s cultural heritage in parallel with developing local tourism and the economy.
In Dragash/Dragaš, Mayor Salim Januzi emphasised his willingness to work harder to better integrate the Kosovo Bosniak and Kosovo Gorani communities into Kosovo society.
And in Mamushë/Mamuşa/Mamuša, Mayor Arif Bütüç appreciated UNMIK’s readiness to help facilitate communication between the municipality and all of its communities.
UNMIK’s donation program did not merely center on the provision of infrastructure, but also represented an opportunity for dialogue between the Mission and key organisations across Kosovo. In the Mitrovica region, six vehicles were donated to municipal offices and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) by UNMIK. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Farid Zarif and the DSRSG met with the newly-elected mayors from Leposaviq/Leposavić, Zubin Potok/Zubin Potok and Zveçan/Zvečan. UNMIK also met with three local NGOs - Blind Association North, Zaman (Bosniak NGO) and Community Building Mitrovica - and acknowledged their vital role in providing services to the public, including in the areas of local and infrastructure development.
A vehicle was also presented to the Coordinating Council of the Association of Families of Missing Persons of Kosovo. The DSRSG met with members of the Association, established in 2001 to represent the interests of the families of missing persons in Kosovo. There remain 1,716 missing persons in Kosovo since the 1998-1999 conflict.
The UNMIK donation programme is a multi-faceted effort on the part of the Mission to improve infrastructure and communications, and to assist the efforts of key players working with Kosovo’s minority and displaced communities. According to OCSF Political Affairs Officer Boram Kim, “No words can explain how significant these donations have become. The smiling faces in the communities prove that our efforts are making a difference.”