Yugoslav war in 1991-1995 created the largest number of refugees and displaced persons in Europe since the end of World War II. As for Serbia, there were about 620000 refugees and IDPs in 1996. Since then Serbia has been the 1st state in Europe by the total number of refugees and IDPs. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Serbia is one of 5 countries in the world with a protracted refugee situation. Now International Community strongly demands that Serbia realizes the earliest and final resolution of refugee problems.
This paper examines the problem-solving situation in Serbia with a focus on local integration of refugees in the host country. The reason is that almost all of refugees are the Serbian people from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and most of them have been living here for long time and want to settle down in Serbia. The main research results are as follows.
1. There are three options as durable solutions for refugee problem, namely return to the country of origin, local integration and settlement to a third country. However, in practice, it is difficult to establish a clear line between integration and return. Refugees are tied to their country of origin by familial bonds and friendship. Many refugees go back temporarily to the country origin. Some of them use return and integration in combination. For example, the parents returned to the country origin and their children settle down in Serbia.
2. If we assume a successful local integration as acquiring citizenship, resolving housing problem and getting employed with a steady source of income, a significant number of refugees have not solved the problems yet. Of the refugees who settle down in Serbia, less than half have acquired Serbian citizenship. Only 30 percent of them have secured their own private housing. The largest percentage lives in rented apartments and houses, paying a large proportion of their monthly income in rent. Unemployment rate among refugees has been always higher than the average unemployment rate in Serbia. Almost 66% of refugees accommodated in collective centers are not employed. Unemployment rate is higher particularly among person of younger age. This may explain partly the reason why more than 40 percent of persons of 15-39 years want to move to a third country.
3. Higher unemployment rate among refugees is not the result of discrimination against refugees. It is the consequence of the backward economy, which is still in transition, aggravated by the current global economic crisis. However, the refugee population is not the exclusive vulnerable category of people in Serbia. There are other socially vulnerable groups (children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, Roma, the rural population and uneducated people). 10.6% of inhabitants or 800,000 individuals live in poverty line in Serbia. Employment and poverty problem among refugees should be solved through the implementing the total policy which shall solve the problem of the host population in Serbia.