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Thousands of Kosovo refugees expected to disappear to escape repatriation

The head of the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees, Urs Hadorn (pictured), says that he expects nearly half of the Kosovo-Albanian refugees in Switzerland will try to escape repatriation to Kosovo.

The head of the Swiss Federal Office for Refugees, Urs Hadorn (pictured), says that he expects nearly half of the Kosovo-Albanian refugees in Switzerland will try to escape government repatriation. Hadorn's statement coincides with the second deadline for voluntary repatriation to Kosovo.

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung, Hadorn admitted that of the estimated 34,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees in the country, around 15,000 were likely to filter into other countries while a small number would try to work on the black market. He also said many refugees would return without informing the authorities, or would choose to stay with their families.

Hadorn believes that around 10,000 forced repatriations will have to be organised. "We initially thought that some 25,000 Kosovo Albanians would still be here, but the number is more likely to be around 10,000," he explained.

There will be around 500 difficult cases, Hadorn explained, but stressed that the repatriation programme so far had been a success. Switzerland has been able to encourage more voluntary repatriations than any other country, he added.

Hadorn forecasts that in one year's time, his role as "Mr Kosovo" would no longer be necessary as all of the refugees would have returned home by then. The government has assigned SFr37 million to the repatriation project.

swissinfo with agencies

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