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Metzler says Kosovo ready for return of refugees

The Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler (pictured), says the prospects for Kosovar refugees who return home are good. Metzler made the statement shortly after arriving in Berne from a three-day trip to Kosovo.

The Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler (pictured), says the prospects for Kosovar refugees who return home are good. Metzler made the statement shortly after arriving in Berne from a three-day trip to Kosovo.

Metzler said the security situation in had improved greatly over the past ten months. She said her visit had given her a better idea about the progress being made in rebuilding the war-torn region.

During her visit, Metzler signed an agreement with the United Nations administration in Kosovo on the return of refugees from Switzerland. The accord makes it safer for the Kosovars to go back, but also facilitates forced repatriations.

About 30,000 Kosovars are facing forcible repatriation in the coming months. The deadline for their voluntary return is the end of May.

Switzerland's repatriation policy has come under fire from a number of sides.

The Swiss Red Cross wants the deadline to be extended because of the continued threat posed by unexploded mines. The United Nations' administrator in Kosovo has expressed concern about a mass return of people to a region in which unemployment currently stands at 80 per cent.

swissinfo and agencies







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