Refugee organisation warns about threat to minorities in Kosovo

The Swiss Refugee Council on Friday expressed concern about the situation of ethnic minorities in Kosovo, saying the multi-national KFOR troops are unable to provide adequate security for them.

This content was published on November 26, 1999 - 17:42

The Swiss Refugee Council on Friday expressed concern about the situation of ethnic minorities in Kosovo, saying the multi-national KFOR troops are unable to provide adequate security for them.

The council, which is an umbrella organisation of refugee support groups, told a news conference that about 200,000 Roma and minority Serbs have left Kosovo because of harassment and threats by ethnic Albanians.

Gypsy minorities are systematically being persecuted and evicted from their homes by ethnic Albanians, the council said.

It added that ethnic Albanians, who form the majority in Kosovo, were still feeling the pressure of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s crackdown.

According to the refugee organisation, the harassment seems to be particularly bad in parts of southern Serbia.

Ethnic Albanian refugees were therefore still crossing into Kosovo, further aggravating an already difficult aid situation.

About 900,000 people in the Serb province are still dependent on international humanitarian aid, including reconstruction support from Switzerland, the council said.
It said the winter weather had clearly aggravated the “precarious” situation and it urged the Swiss government not to send back Serb and ethnic minority refugees.

Switzerland is providing financial and material on-the-spot aid, which includes house repair kits and seeds, as well as livestock for dairy production.

A SWISSCOY military unit serving alongside KFOR troops is helping rebuild the infrastructure, including schools and clean water installations.

From staff and wire reports.

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