UNHCR rejects Croatia's bid to strip Serb refugees of status

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) rejected Croatia's proposal to abolish the status of refugees to all Serbs who left Croatia between 1991 and 1995.

Source: Politika, Tanjug
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The proposal came with an explanation that "after so many years and refugee programs, every one of them has chosen where to live."

At the meeting of the UNHCR Executive Committee in Geneva, Croatia urged the UNHCR to accept the proposal, but since the decisions are passed unanimously this one was not adopted due to the opposition of Serbia, the Belgrade-based daily Politika reported.

“These attempts have existed for a few years now with an explanation that a lot of time has passed since the war and the situation in the region has improved. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres did not accept this,” said Mirjana Ivanović-Milenkovski from the UNHCR public relations department in Serbia.

She explained that the adoption of such recommendation, which even if adopted would not be binding, would among other things have a negative impact on the great regional program of housing which besides Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro is also financed by donor countries.

The goal of this program, whose value amounts to EUR 584 million, is to secure a lasting housing solution for 27,000 most vulnerable refugee families in the region, 16,780 of which are in Serbia.

The Zagreb-based Serb Democratic Forum draw the public attention to Croatia's "dubious initiative," stressing that the refugee problem in Croatia cannot be considered solved since it is mainly elderly citizens that returned rather than economically active population so we cannot speak about a sustainable return.

Today, the areas that were affected by war have only a half of the pre-war population and a third of jobs, the Forum said.

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