Japan NGOs aid Balkan refugee effort

A consortium of Japanese nongovernmental organizations is supporting the efforts of more than 180 professional aid coordinators working together in the former Yugoslavia, despite their different ethnic backgrounds, to ameliorate the ongoing refugee problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, the consortium director said May 19.

“JEN is there to help the most vulnerable people, the older women and the young children, and to tell them that they are not forgotten. … We support (volunteers) so they can work for their countries,” said Masahiro Nemoto, project director for the consortium, Japan Emergency NGOs, in Tokyo. “The Japanese presence is very strong in our countries. The refugees need to know that other countries still care about them and their plight and JEN has done that,” said Lidija Petrovacki, a project coordinator for Croatia.

JEN, which was originally formed in 1993 to provide aid in Somalia, began its efforts in the former Yugoslavia in 1994. The consortium is the largest coordinated NGO in the former Yugoslavia, with a budget of $4 million, $2 million of which is contributed by the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo.