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Kosovo: Shooting a stark reminder of problems facing returnees

Briefing notes

Kosovo: Shooting a stark reminder of problems facing returnees

7 October 2003

UNHCR is alarmed by a recent incident in Kosovo in which a Serb returnee was shot and wounded as she tried to visit her home in the town of Gnjilane. The 73-year-old woman went back to Gnjilane last Saturday, following a court ruling that authorized her to repossess her property. The woman was shot by an ethnic Albanian man who had moved into her house with his family, after she fled the province in 1999. The shooting represents the worst act of violence against a Serb returnee to Kosovo in many months. It is a stark reminder that despite much progress in efforts to reconcile Kosovo's communities, members of ethnic minorities who go back continue to face harassment and attacks. The woman is now in hospital in the northern Kosovo town of Kosovska Mitrovica. The man who shot her has been arrested.

An estimated 230,000 people, most of them ethnic Serbs, fled Kosovo in 1999 to Serbia proper and Montenegro, as Serbs forces lost control of the province. Only an estimated 8,379 minority members have since gone back, about half of them Serbs. The remainder are ethnic Roma.