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31 December 2012
In 1999, NATO airstrikes forced Yugoslav troops to withdraw from Kosovo and led to the displacement of more than 245,000 people. Ethnic violence against non-Albanians, mainly Serbs and Roma, displaced another 4,200 in 2004.
At the end of 2012, about 18,000 IDPs remianed in Kosovo. Over half were Kosovo Serbs, 40 per cent Kosovo Albanians and five per cent Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (RAE). Most Kosovo Serb IDPs live in northern Kosovo. Those living elsewhere often have limited freedom of movement and little access to land or livelihoods.
Thirteen years after their displacement, only around 4,500 IDPs have returned to their places of origin as a result of the continued risk of insecurity, discrimination, limited freedom of movement and restricted access to services, housing and livelihoods. They were particularly affected by increasing tensions
and sporadic violence during 2012.
Many IDPs and returnees, particularly RAEs, still need assistance. As of December 2012, around 950 IDPs were still living in 38 substandard collective centres. The Kosovo Property Agency has decided more than 80 per cent of the claims submitted to it, but many decisions still had to be implemented and occupation and re-occupation of housing and land continued to be a challenge.
Significant challenges remain, including a lack of IDPs' political participation, a shortage of resources and inadequate coordination between central and local authorities. International supervision of Kosovo ended in September and talks with Serbia resumed towards the end of the year, with the aim of normalising relations between Pristina and Belgrade.
Kosovo: Contaminated site for Roma IDPs closed
The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has demolished a settlement in Cesmin Lug in northern Mitrovica which was contaminated with lead. This settlement had been opened by UNHCR in 1999 as a temporary measure to host Roma people fleeing from southern Mitrovica. Since 2007, several hundred residents have returned with the help of UNHCR and its partners to the Roma Mahalla district in southern Mitrovica, including a group of 57 families who went back in September 2010. Moreover, the Kosovo government and the Municipality of Mitrovica south have allocated land in Roma Mahalla for the construction of housing to accommodate Cesmin Lug IDPs. The construction project was funded by the European Union and USAID and relocation was intended to be completed by end of 2010, to be followed by integration projects, supporting health care, education and income generation.
In September 2010, UNHCR estimated the number of Kosovo IDPs at just over 19,000. Slightly over half of IDPs were Serbs, followed by Albanians (39 per cent), Roma (three per cent), Ashkali (three per cent) and Egyptians (two per cent).
The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kosovo has dropped slightly in recent years. A September 2012 estimate by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) put the figure at 17,900, compared with around 19,700 in 2009. Most ethnic Serb IDPs live in northern Kosovo, where they rely on a system of education, policing and health care services provided entirely by Serbia. Many others live in enclaves in areas where their ethnic group constitutes a majority, but where they often face restrictions on their freedom of movement and have little access to livelihoods and services.
For many internally displaced people, return to their place of origin is not a viable option after 13 years of displacement, and the prospects for durable solutions are limited. Many still face obstacles in obtaining personal and property documents from their places of origin, and in repossessing their property or getting compensation for it. Widespread discrimination against Serbs and Roma people has made it difficult for them to return to areas where they constitute a minority.
National and international actors have set up projects to facilitate the return and reintegration of people displaced both within and beyond Kosovo, to help members of minority communities improve their living conditions whether they are displaced or not, and to prevent further displacement.(...)
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10 October 2012