Greater efforts needed to reverse displacement
GENEVA, Aug. 7 (UNHCR) - High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said Tuesday greater international efforts were necessary to reverse a wave of displacement in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Though some villages in the country remained tense, refugees continued to return from Kosovo.
"The longer refugees and displaced persons stay away from their homes, the more bitter and radicalized they are becoming and the deeper the ethnic divisions in the country are growing," Lubbers said in letters sent to NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and Javier Solana, the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The High Commissioner called for a stronger international monitoring presence in areas affected by the conflict, establishment of a multi-ethnic police force, reconstruction of housing and a mine clearance programme.
The U.N. refugee agency was working with the government on the issuance of citizenship papers and other identification to the country's ethnic Albanians.
It was also ready to provide emergency shelter to returning civilians.
In his letter sent Friday, Lubbers said security problems must be resolved for all citizens, and emphasized that steps had to be taken to allow ethnic Macedonians displaced from overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian areas to return to their villages safely.
Though some of these areas around the town of Tetovo remained tense, refugee officials said more than 1,000 refugees had returned during the weekend from Kosovo. An estimated 200 people left the country in the same period.
In southern Serbia, there were no reports of any population movements despite the killing of two police officers in Muhovac town last week. However, UNHCR postponed two convoys from Kosovo carrying back ethnic-Albanians to the region. An estimated 15,000 civilians had fled the area following earlier disturbances, but for the last several weeks, with UNHCR help, had started to return.