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UNHCR hails former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's new amnesty law

Briefing Notes, 8 March 2002

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 8 March 2002, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes the adoption yesterday by the Parliament of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) of a new amnesty law which also covers draft evaders and deserters. UNHCR thinks the new law will help reconcile FYROM's rival ethnic communities and encourage the return of those uprooted by the conflict.

Some 170,000 people were driven from their homes last year during fighting between FYROM security forces and ethnic Albanian rebels. Some 140,000 have gone back since the fighting stopped last summer but some of them remain reluctant to return to their homes, fearing reprisals for desertion or refusal to fight.

UNHCR has long advocated and lobbied for the adoption of the law, which has also been backed by the European Union, NATO, OSCE and the FYROM government.

Some 9,000 refugees from FYROM remain in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, mainly in Kosovo, while 17,000 persons are still displaced within the country.



The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward JourneyPlay video

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward Journey

A transit centre at Vinojug, on FYR Macedonia's border with Greece is where the refugees and migrants pass through on their journey further into Europe. Here UNHCR and partner organisations provide food, water, medical care, psycho-social support and information for refugees who take the train towards the border with Serbia. UNHCR also provides information on how to access the asylum system in the country. In recent weeks, an average of 6,300 refugees pass through the camp every day, yesterday that number grew to 10,000, a record.
FYR Macedonia: Volunteers At HandPlay video

FYR Macedonia: Volunteers At Hand

Almost 300,000 refugees and migrants have passed through the Gevgelija transit center in the former Yusgoslav Republic of Macedonia, on their way to the EU since it was setup less than two months ago.
Serbia: Overstretched BordersPlay video

Serbia: Overstretched Borders

As Hungary builds a fence on its border with Serbia, the situation at the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece is increasingly precarious. Refugees in Serbia on their way to Hungry fear the tighter measures and say they wouldn't have fled home had they not been forced to do it by the war.