UN High Commissioner for Refugees to visit Skopje
SKOPJE, Sept 28 (UNHCR) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers is travelling to Skopje on September 28 to reaffirm the refugee agency's commitment to supporting the peace agreement in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Lubbers is scheduled to meet President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski during the one-day visit.
"UNHCR is committed to helping create conditions for the safe return of all refugees and displaced people to their original homes," said the agency's Geneva-based spokesman Ron Redmond.
Aid distribution and bus services across ethnic lines and security checkpoints are already underway to help those returning to their homes, and to build confidence among the affected communities. UNHCR has delivered six truckloads of aid supplies, including mattresses, blankets, plastic sheeting, tools, jerry cans, kitchen sets and hygiene kits to the Tetovo region. Over 8,000 people have returned to the villages of Lesok, Slatino, Gajre and Sipkovica near Tetovo, according to the UN refugee agency.
In Lesok, which is surrounded by ethnic Albanian villages, some 50 ethnic Macedonians have now returned to their homes. Of the original population of some 400, only about a dozen remained during the conflict.
More than 55,000 refugees have returned to FYROM from Kosovo, but some 27,000 remain. The Macedonian Red Cross recorded another 70,000 displaced within the country, 60 percent of whom are ethnic Macedonians.