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Kosovo: concern at Roma deportations from Germany

Briefing notes

Kosovo: concern at Roma deportations from Germany

4 August 2000

UNHCR is concerned about continued deportations from Germany of members of Kosovo's ethnic Roma minority. On Thursday, the German province (Land) of Lower Saxony deported a Roma family of three who told UNHCR upon arrival at Pristina airport they feared for their safety in Kosovo. The three, who said they had lived in Germany since 1992 and had nowhere to go in Kosovo, were temporarily accommodated in a UNHCR transit centre for minority returnees in Pristina.

The deportation came one day after three Roma were killed and one was wounded by a booby trap planted at their house in a village south of Pristina. The attack highlighted the volatile situation of Kosovo's remaining Roma population estimated today at some 35,000, down from 65-70,000 two years ago. UNHCR opposes forcible returns to Kosovo of all ethnic minority members who could face danger upon return. Also deported from Lower Saxony on Thursday was a member of Kosovo's tiny Gorani community of Serbo-Croatian-speaking Muslims who are concentrated in the Dragas area near Prizren. The man, who speaks no Albanian and whose entire family was left behind in Germany, also expressed concern about his safety.

UNHCR had sent a letter to the Lower Saxony Interior Minister on Thursday in an attempt to prevent the deportation of the Roma. In previous contacts with UNHCR officials, the German authorities have repeatedly said they will refrain from sending back minority members against their will, but sporadic deportations of minority members continue.