Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK


World: Europe

Refugees: Lessons from Bosnia

More than 750,000 Bosnian refugees have still not returned home

By Angus Roxburgh in Brussels

Western aid organisations, seeking a long-term answer to the refugee crisis caused by the war in Kosovo, have been looking to neighbouring Bosnia Hercegovina for possible solutions.

Kosovo: Special Report
It is the intention of the international community that all displaced people from the Bosnian war should eventually be able to return to their original towns and villages.

But very few have so far done so. Almost four years after the end of the war, only 80,000 people have gone back to areas from which they were ethnically cleansed. Ten times that number remain displaced.

International aid workers have found it hard to persuade Bosnians to return to areas where they would be in a minority.

Ethnic divide

The more time that passes, the less likely it is that people will wish to go back to live in their original homes on the other side of the ethnic divide. Temporary solutions become permanent.


[ image: Need to hurry home]
Need to hurry home
In some ways, the return of Albanian refugees to their homes in Kosovo will be easier. Since about 90% of the population was Albanian in the first place, they will not be in a minority in a Serb-dominated region.

But Western officials nevertheless believe it will be essential to get them home as quickly as possible when the fighting ends.

I understand Nato is considering a plan to return 700,000 Albanians to their homes in just one month, as soon as there is peace.

Keeping communities together

The plan envisages refugees taking their tents with them from camps in Macedonia or Albania and setting them up in their home villages. In this way, it would be possible to keep communities intact, enable farm work to be done and re-building to commence.

Officials in charge of Bosnian refugee returns say it is imperative to get the Kosovo Albanians home before winter.

The alternative would be to see more and more refugees drifting abroad, thereby consolidating the programme of ethnic cleansing that has taken place in the Serbian province.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

18 May 99 | UK
Blair's pledge to refugees

18 May 99 | Europe
Kosovo relief effort criticised

17 May 99 | Europe
Serbs turn back refugee train





Internet Links


Nato

Serbian Ministry of Information

Kosovo Crisis Centre

UNHCR Kosovo news

Eyewitness accounts of the bombing

OSCE

Oxfam in Kosovo


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift