Bosnia and Herzegovina

Minority returnees in Bosnia increase in 2002: UNHCR

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Sarajevo (dpa) - A significant number of minority returnees were registered last year in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told a press conference in Sarajevo on Wednesday.
Udo Janz, UNHCR Acting Chief of Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina said his organisation registered more than 102,000 minority returnees -people who returned to pre-war home territories now controlled by another ethnic group.

A total of 2.2 million people were displaced during the country's 1992-1995 war.

The latest figures bring the overall number of returnees to one million, including some 390,000 minority returnees, Janz said.

UNHCR believes that some 367,000 Bosnian citizens are still displaced, while more than a million Bosnians who left the country during the war are still living abroad.

An estimated two-thirds have obtained a different citizenship, he said. The dire economic situation in the country may compel them to remain abroad, he added.

"We know that process of return is not bed of roses,'' Janz told reporters. He said he hoped that political and economic reforms in the country would facilitate the process of return for refugees and internally displaced people in the coming years.

The process includes not only Bosnia but also neighbouring Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. According to the UNHCR, some 125,000 Bosnian citizens have been living in those countries since the end of the 1992-1995 war.

The UNHCR also confirmed that some 31,000 refugees from Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro are living in Bosnia, including some 25,000 Croatian citizens, mostly Croatian Serbs and some 6,000 people mainly ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. dpa zl pb sc

AP-NY-02-05-03 0941EST

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 02/05/2003 09:41:24

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