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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Serbian government forcing Kosovo Serbs to return

In the last few days, Serbian government officials began campaign of pushing and forcing Kosovo Serbs to return to the province. They said that thousands Serbs who had fled Kosovo over the past few days were to return home on Monday. Tens of thousands of frightened Serbs have left Kosovo during the past week, many saying they feared reprisals from returning ethnic Albanian refugees in the face of alleged atrocities by Serbian security forces and civilians. NATO and UNHCR estimated that more than 50.000 Kosovo Serbs fled the province. On Saturday, Serbian government issued a statement and said that refugees should go back on Kosovo and that government officials would escort them back to province. A first group of Serbs who heeded the government call to return arrived in the Kosovo capital Pristina on Sunday night, escorted by KFOR forces. At some moments, Serbian government officials were also seen escorting refugees back home. KFOR commander, Lieutenant General Sir Mike Jackson, told reporters in Pristina on Monday morning that 2,000 of the Serb civilians who had fled the province had returned home in the past 48 hours. Serbian officials trying to appeal to Serb's sense of identity with Kosovo. If Serbs do not return, they say, there will be no Kosovo. But some now safe in Serbia say they are not yet ready to return. "I don't believe (guarantees for safety)", said one man from Prizren. "It's a madhouse down there right now. We would be killed or slaughtered if we go there. These people are making us go back there but how in the world can we go back?" Serbian police broke up a second day of protests by angry Kosovo Serbs in central Belgrade and detained their leader, Svetozar Fisic. About 200 people, prevented by police from protesting in front of the federal parliament, rallied instead at Terazije Square in defiance of the government in protest against what they said was their abandonment by Yugoslav authorities.

Source: Free Serbia

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