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Yugoslavia: UNHCR urges EU to deploy "adequately staffed observer mission"

Briefing notes

Yugoslavia: UNHCR urges EU to deploy "adequately staffed observer mission"

26 February 2001

UNHCR has urged the European Union to deploy "an adequately staffed observer mission" in Serbia's volatile south to help contain mounting tension between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the predominantly Albanian-populated Presevo area in Serbia proper. In 23 Feb. letters addressed to Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, and Javier Solana - the European Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy - High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said civilians have been uprooted by a conflict between Yugoslav security forces and armed Albanian militants.

"If the violence continues to escalate, UNHCR's efforts to create conditions for people to return home in southern Serbia and in Kosovo will be impeded and further displacement will undoubtedly result," Mr. Lubbers warned. "Moreover, a serious possibility exists that the conflict may spread and engulf other areas within the region."