Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina: UN agency concerned by surge in returnee deaths

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The killing of eight people returning to their pre-war homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina has officials from the United Nations refugee agency worried about the dangers returnees continue to face.
The spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today said over the past two weeks, eight people were killed and one wounded in a string of incidents involving people returning to their pre-war homes.

Since the Dayton Peace Agreement ended the war in the fall of 1995, nearly 1 million people have gone back to the their homes -- almost half of those uprooted by the three-year conflict. "More than 390,000 of them have gone to areas controlled by their former foes," Rupert Colville said.

The latest surge in returnee deaths, described by UNHCR officials as the worst in years, began two weeks ago when an elderly Bosniak man was killed and another wounded by a booby trap as they tried to repair their home in Croat-controlled west Mostar, Mr. Colville said. The same day, an ethnic Serb returnee to a village outside Mostar was also wounded by a booby trap hidden under a sack of grain.

In an accident at the start of this week, an entire family of five was killed by a landmine in a field near their home in northern Bosnia. Two days later, two brothers aged seven and three were killed while playing with a hand grenade they found in a barn.