dDH Hope on the Balkans Archive; Kosova News 1999: UNHCR fears Serb exodus from Kosovo
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News Archive 1999

UNHCR fears Serb exodus from Kosovo

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said in a planning paper released Wednesday that there was a "strong possibility" of a Serb exodus from the southern province, which was 90 percent ethnic Albanian before the crisis. The period between the end of NATO's bombing campaign and the arrival of NATO forces in the province could create a power vacuum endangering Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo, according to the paper. Kosovo Albanian leaders have pledged to respect the Serbian minority once they return to their own homes, but refugees in camps in northern Albania say many Albanians might take revenge for ethnic cleansing carried out by Serbian forces. "UNHCR anticipates that there is a strong possibility that large-scale return movements to Kosovo might be accompanied by a concurrent exodus of Kosovo Serbs from Kosovo. Prior to the deployment of an effective policing mechanism, there will be no international agency in Kosovo able to ensure and maintain public order. The international presence in Kosovo should take all possible security and confidence-building measures to reinforce the protection and security of Serb and other minority citizens who might otherwise become displaced persons." It is estimated that there are 150,000 ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. If the current peace preparations soon bear fruit, about half of the 980,000 ethnic Albanians now living abroad could return by September.

Source: Free Serbia

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