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Minister to visit Kosovo

The Swiss Justice Minister, Ruth Metzler (file picture), begins a visit to Kosovo today. The aim is to ensure conditions are adequate for the repatriation of some 40,000 Kosovar refugees who have been housed in Switzerland since last year.

The Swiss Justice Minister, Ruth Metzler (file picture), begins a working visit to Kosovo today. The aim of the three-day trip is to ensure conditions are adequate for the repatriation of some 40,000 Kosovar refugees who have been housed in Switzerland since last year.

They were collectively granted temporary refugee status last year, during the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, and Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia. The Swiss government has been giving financial help to those who have returned voluntarily. But at the end of May, it will begin with forced repatriations.

Metzler's itinerary will include talks with the deputy head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo, Jock Covey, who is also the chief of the civilian police in the province. Meetings are also scheduled with representatives of the UN's refugee agency and of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In addition to discussing repatriation matters, as head of Switzerland's Justice and Police Ministry, she will also look at issues concerning the development of legal institutions in Kosovo. A brief visit to the soldiers making up Switzerland's peacekeeping contingent, Swisscoy, has also been scheduled, along with a meeting between Metzler and a group of former refugees who have already been repatriated from Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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