Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the European Union within the Regional Housing Programme (RHP) continues to ensure homes to its most-vulnerable beneficiaries during this time of acute need. In January 2021, 34 beneficiary families in Tuzla received keys to newly-constructed apartments worth close to €900 000. Among the 34 families – mainly those who had been forced to leave their homes in the Eastern region of BiH during the war – was Zejta Hamzabegovic, from Zvornik. Zejta, a matriarch with 23 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren, noted that she had had to move between several homes in Tuzla over the last 18 years, and had recently struggled to pay rent from her monthly pension of 180 BAM. Marveling at her sudden good fortune, she laughed: “When I was told to come and collect the keys, it felt like I had been reborn. I can’t believe that this is my new life.
Rahima Beganović, a single mother from Zvornik, also contrasted her good fortune with the hardships of recent years. During the war, she had lost her father and two brothers, and had found it difficult to raise a child alone, on a minimum income, and in a house full of damp. “After all the suffering that we have been through, my daughter and I finally have a dignified life,” she smiled. “I am at a loss for words to thank the donors of the RHP who provided us with this beautiful apartment”. She added that she was also thrilled with her new refrigerator and washing machine, which had been installed in each apartment thanks to the EU-funded CARE project, implemented by the Igman Initative.
This sentiment was echoed in the words of the Mehidić family, who had also fled their home in Zvornik, after which they had lived in four different old and damaged houses. “When we heard that we would receive an apartment, I was full of joy and happiness because we had never had a new and such a beautiful apartment,” exclaimed Fatima Mehidić, with tears in her eyes. “I am glad that our two sons will have their own room. I thank the EU and other donors for giving us this beauty!”
The European Union is the main donor to the RHP with €235 million. The RHP aims to provide approximately 11.800 homes to most-vulnerable refugee and displaced families across the Western Balkans. Total amount allocated for BiH by the European Union is €64 million. Within RHP, so far 1.300 housing units have been delivered to the beneficiary families in BiH. The remaining 700 housing units are expected to be delivered by June 2022.