Bosnia and Herzegovina IDP Figures Analysis

IDMC estimates that there were around 100,400 IDPs in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as of November 2014 (GoBiH, 30 June 2014).


The government is the sole source of IDP figures in the country. All information is recorded in a central database, which the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees maintains. Data is not disaggregated by age or sex, but is disaggregated by ethnicity. As of 30 June 2014 there were about 32,800 Bosniak IDPs, 4,900 Bosnian Croat IDPs, 62,000 Bosnian Serb IDPs and 500 IDPs belonging to other ethnicities. The vast majority of Bosnian Serb IDPs live in Republika Srpska, while Bosniak and Bosnian Croat IDPs mostly live in the Federation of BiH. 

The figure is based on the 2005 country-wide re-registration of IDPs in BiH by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in cooperation with the relevant ministries and UNHCR (GoBiH, December 2005). Since 2005, the figure has been updated regularly to account for IDP return, deaths of IDPs and the descendants of IDPs, who are eligible for IDP status.

Re-registration was done according to the valid state level law governing IDPs in BiH. People internally displaced by conflict and human rights violations since 1991 and their children were eligible for re-registration. IDPs who benefited from reconstruction assistance or property restitution were not eligible for re-registration. An unknown number of Roma IDPs were not registered since they did not have identity documents or did not come forward.

More than a million people were internally displaced during the 1992 to 1995 war in BiH following the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. People fled their homes as a result of inter-ethnic generalised violence, human rights violations and armed conflict between Serb, Croatian and Bosnian armed forces and militias. 

Since 1995 over 580,000 IDPs have returned to their areas of origin; however, in 2013 only 151 IDP returns were recorded by UNHCR – around half the number of returns in 2012 (UNHCR, 8 February 2014).  Limited monitoring of the situation of returned IDPs by international agencies and civil society suggests that sustainable return will depend on greater efforts regarding livelihoods, access to social protection, education, and infrastructure.

A Census of the Population, Households and Dwellings in Bosnia and Herzegovina was carried out in 2013. The preliminary results did not contain information on the number of IDPs. However, such information should be contained in the final results to be published by 2016.

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.