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Maj-Inger Klingvall comments on the return and need of protection of refugees from Kosovo

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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

In connection with the war in Kosovo in 1999, approximately 3,800 persons were evacuated to Sweden. Around 1,800 have already chosen to return to Kosovo.

"I fully concur with Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in her assessment to the effect that the return of refugees to Kosovo must be carefully planned, well coordinated and humane, and must take local circumstances into account. That is why we engage in close consultation with the other countries that have received substantial numbers of refugees from Kosovo, as well as with agencies such as UNHCR and UNMIK," says the Minister for Development Cooperation, Migration and Asylum Policy, Maj-Inger Klingvall in a comment.

The Government is carefully monitoring developments in Kosovo, both with regard to human rights, safety and aspects of particular relevance to migration.

On Monday, a meeting was held in Geneva with the countries that received the largest numbers of people who fled from Kosovo during the 1998-99 crisis. The meeting was also attended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The view of the UNHCR now, as previously, is that the Kosovo Albanians who are still living in the host countries are generally speaking no longer in need of protection. and therefore should in principle be able to return to Kosovo now.

However, there may be individuals in the Kosovo Albanian community who still need protection. For example, persons in mixed marriages. Moreover, the situation in Kosovo is particularly difficult for persons who are members of other ethnic groups. Such people may also need continued protection on an individual basis.

Persons from Kosovo who have been granted temporary residence permits in Sweden may request that their grounds for continued protection be considered on an individual basis by submitting an asylum application. The Swedish Immigration Board and possibly the Aliens Appeals Board will then conduct a normal investigation of the case. The time required for this process will vary depending on the circumstances of the individual case. Therefore, decisions to grant or refuse applications for residence permits will be taken over a protracted period, which makes it unlikely that large groups of people will return at the same time.

The Swedish Immigrant Board will be stationing an official in Pristina very soon in order to assist both those who have returned voluntarily and those whose asylum applications have been rejected.

Per Sjögren
Director-General for Migration and Asylum Policy
08-405 55 30

Daniel Färm
Political Adviser
08-405 56 87
070-86 73 996

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