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Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: Muslims leave Prizren

Briefing notes

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: Muslims leave Prizren

28 January 2000

Following increasing violence in the Prizren area of south-western Kosovo over the last months, some of it targeting members of the Goran ethnic group and other non-Albanian Muslims, several hundred new arrivals from the Prizren area have been recorded in the Novi Pazaar region of Yugoslavia in the first three weeks of this year, according to Serbian authorities and the Serbian Red Cross.

Although UNHCR cannot verify the exact number, some of the arrivals in Novi Pazaar told our staff that the Muslim Slav groups in Prizren are subject to violence and increasing pressures since December and feel that they have no future in an increasingly monoethnic Kosovo where they have almost no access to work. In one instance earlier this month, a Goran family of four was found brutally murdered in their Prizren.

According to Serbian figures, the numbers of recent arrivals include 584 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Gora area in the hills above Prizren and another 144 people from Prizren itself.

UNHCR and the Belgrade government's Commission on Refugees will start a registration of refugees and IDPs from Kosovo beginning in February. The registration will be undertaken by UNHCR and the Serbian Commission for Refugees and be monitored by officials from Swiss Disaster Relief. The registration will be financed by ECHO.

A registration last year in the Republic of Montenegro found some 30,000 refugees and IDPs from Kosovo there. Estimates of the number of refugees and IDPs in the Republic of Serbia from Kosovo range from 220,000 to well over 300,000.