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Kosovo: security problems persist for ethnic minorities

Briefing notes

Kosovo: security problems persist for ethnic minorities

11 March 2003

A joint assessment carried out by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and UNHCR shows that Kosovo's ethnic minorities continue to face security problems and lack access to basic services. The report says that despite progress in many areas Kosovo's ethnic minorities lack access to education and health services. The study also says ethnic minorities, primarily ethnic Serbs and Roma, find it much harder to find employment. The report says one key concern is the lack of freedom of movement for the minorities which affects their ability to live normal lives.

The assessment says after three internationally supervised polls, in which Kosovo's residents have chosen their own municipal and central leadership, fair and equitable treatment of minorities remains problematic in many areas.

The report - the tenth such assessment in four years - said the improvement in the overall situation of Kosovo's minority communities has not been "fundamental enough" to allow a large-scale return to the province of minority Serbs and Roma.

An estimated 200,000 people fled Kosovo in mid 1999, as Serbian forces withdrew from the province. Only a small number have since trickled back to Kosovo where ethnic Albanians represent an overwhelming majority.