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Resident registration and identity cards for Kosovars: Switzerland helps

Switzerland is making 1.9 million francs available to the UN Administration in Kosovo for setting up a residents and election register. The corresponding contract was signed on 23 March in Pristina. The first municipal elections should take place in Kosovo in October 2000. The residents register will also serve for the issuing of a UN travel document.

The international community in Kosovo is striving to restore public order in the province. Between mid-April and mid-July 2000 all inhabitants of Kosovo over 16 years old will be registered. The registration, conducted jointly by the UN Administration (UNMIK) and the OSCE will be used for preparing a residents register, issuing identity cards and the holding of municipal elections in October 2000. The registration will also cover Kosovars currently living outside Kosovo, especially those having settled in Central Europe, those that have been collectively accepted and asylum-seekers as well as Serbs who have fled the province and minorities in Serbia and Montenegro.

The total cost of registration will amount to 35 million dollars. The Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), together with the Federal Office for Refugees (FOR), is putting up a contribution of 1.9 million Swiss francs to help implement the return assistance programme. The corresponding contract was signed in Pristina on 23 March by the Head of the UNMIK Civilian Documents Department, Albrecht Conze, and the Head of the Swiss Liaison Office, Peter Sutter.

Moreover, a Swiss expert is supporting the UN Administration in Kosovo with the issue of a travel document. This document replaces a passport. In the 1999 conflict, many inhabitants of Kosovo lost their papers. Yugoslav passports became invalid. The UN travel document will enable the people concerned to apply for a visa and legally to leave and re-enter Kosovo.