Within Serbia and Montenegro to Certain Persons Originating from Kosovo and Belonging to Ethnic Minorities There

 1. The possibility of applying the internal flight or relocation alternative to persons originating from the territory of Kosovo, and returning them to another part of Serbia and Montenegro has increasingly been discussed in asylum countries. This possibility concerns especially persons belonging to ethnic minorities in Kosovo, in particular the Roma, Ashkaelia and Egyptians.

2. In order to assess the possibility of applying the internal flight or relocation alternative in respect of such persons, it would be necessary to assess in the individual case first whether internal relocation is relevant and second whether this is reasonable, as is outlined in UNHCR’s Guidelines on International Protection on this issue. The paragraphs which follow address what would seem likely to be the most relevant questions raised in these Guidelines for these particular groups.

3. In UNHCR’s view, the implementation of the internal flight or relocation alternative to these minorities would not necessarily, depending on the individual circumstances, be either relevant or reasonable.  One of the key considerations is the legal status of those displaced which serves as an obstacle to their accessing basic rights and services. Given this as well as the already over-stretched absorption capacity in a country already hosting over 220,000 IDPs, forced return is likely to lead to further internal displacement rather than a durable solution. Moreover, the application of internal flight or relocation alternative can appear to condone ethnic cleansing and thus contradict the spirit of Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999 which emphasises the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes.

 August 2004

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