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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: rate of returns drops

Briefing notes

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: rate of returns drops

9 October 2001

The rate of refugee returns to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has dropped to 100 per day since the weekend, reflecting uncertainty over the slow progress in the implementation of the 13 August peace agreement. Returnees say that refugees in Kosovo and southern Serbia are waiting for an amnesty declaration, expected this week. Since July, more than 56,000 refugees have returned and around 26,000 remain in Kosovo. Adjusted figures from the [former Yugoslav Republic of] Macedonian Red Cross show 44,500 people are internally displaced, around 60 percent of them ethnic Macedonians. Meanwhile, UNHCR is continuing with its programme to help build confidence in the peace process. So far, UNHCR teams have visited 70 of the 91 conflict-affected villages in the country. UNHCR is also continuing its assistance to refugees and IDPs returning to conflict-affected areas. Over the weekend, UNHCR distributed in the Tetovo region 515 returnee kits, containing mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, plastic sheeting and hygienic kits.

Earlier last week, similar returnee kits were distributed to the ethnic Albanian villages of Jazince and Orasje, north of Tetovo. The ethnic Macedonian mayor of Vratnica municipality was on hand to meet the respective villagers. For the first time since the conflict started in March 2001, a field team last week visited villages south of Tetovo, and distributed returnee kits to the villages of Gornje Palciste, Kamenjane and Jelovjane. UNHCR also visited the ethnic Albanian village of Brodec, west of Tetovo, last week for the first time since the fighting in this area ceased in July. Almost all of the pre-conflict population of 1,250 have now returned from Kosovo. UNHCR will provide assistance to the returnees through its implementing partner, El Hilal. A UNHCR bus line to Tetovo has already been established, assisting secondary school children to attend classes in town.