Dacic: Serbia has greatest number of refugees in Europe

''Serbia is the country with the largest number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Europe'', Ivica Dacic said in Geneva.

Source: Tanjug
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Serbia is the country with the largest number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Europe, which is why it needs international assistance, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said at the 65th session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva on Tuesday.

During the conflicts in Yugoslavia, Serbia offered a safe haven for over 500,000 refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and 220,000 IDPs from Kosovo-Metohija, Dacic said.

As the country with the largest number of refugees and IDPs in long-term displacement in Europe, Serbia is interested in finding lasting and sustainable solutions with higher efficiency on grounds of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Dacic said as reported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As the President of the National Administrative Board of the Regional Housing Programme, Dacic said that full funding of the Regional Housing Programme has not been ensured and that joint actions to raise the remaining funds are yet to be organised.

He expressed the hope that long-term adjustments of complex administrative procedures have now been completed and that all efforts in the time to come could be invested in the realisation of projects for the families which are beneficiaries of the project, Dacic said.

He underscored that Serbia has so far filed five project applications to the Council of Europe Development Bank to the total value of around EUR 88 million. Four of these have already been granted, and the implementation of the first project is already underway.

Dacic noted that Serbia assumed additional burden of responsibility concerning the search for a solution to the issue of refugees in Serbia in early April 2014 through the recommendation on the termination of the refugee status for individuals from Croatia who sought refuge in Serbia in the period 1992-1995.

He underscored that the Recommendation was adopted without adequate prior consultations and appreciation of the target country, i.e. Serbia. What is more, this was done in an arbitrary and unilateral way which had not been typical of the several decades' long cooperation between Serbia and the UNHCR, he added.

Dacic also said that as few as 18 percent of refugees from Croatia returned to their homes and that the number of sustainable returns accounts for a considerably smaller figure, which is not an argument in favour of the UNHCR stand according to which the individuals' fear from banishment is no longer founded.

The individuals are still facing problems concerning realization of their tenancy rights and pensions, reconstruction of houses, restitution of agricultural land, use of language and employment in government institutions, Dacic said and added that the possibilities for the Serb minority to realise their rights as guaranteed in the Constitution and laws of Croatia have even aggravated further.

Such a complex situation calls for unreduced attention, efficiency and solidarity in the search for lasting solutions for the vulnerable part of the population, Dacic said and added that UNHCR and other international partners can continue to count on cooperation with Serbia in the time to come.

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