New bus service eases FYR of Macedonia checkpoint crossings
SKOPJE, Sept 21 (UNHCR) - A new bus service has begun ferrying ethnic Albanians and Macedonians across military checkpoints in the northern Tetovo region of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The UN refugee agency said it established the service in response to a FYROM government request when area residents complained of harassment at roadblocks. Residents of villages scattered along a 25-km stretch of the main road from Rogacevo village to Tetovo say the harassment has prevented workers from travelling to factories and children from attending schools.
"We have discussed the details of the bus service with members of both communities and are urging them to respect freedom of movement," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond.
International observers have been alerted to monitor the bus, which will run three times a day. UNHCR says it is considering possibilities for similar transport services elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency reports the number of refugees returning to FYROM remains low, with only 200 a day coming back from Kosovo. UNHCR attributes the low returns to uncertainty over security conditions in FYROM, particularly as NATO troops prepare to depart by the end of September. Some 28,600 refugees from FYROM remain in Kosovo, according to UNHCR.