20 February 2008 – In a statement released today, the German organisation Pro Asyl expresses concerns that the repatriation strategy agreed in October, between UNMIK and the Kosovo government, could spur forced repatriations of minorities to Kosovo. Almost half of the estimated 100,000 refugees from Kosovo staying in Western Europe without a legal residence status, live in Germany, Pro Asyl says in its statement.

The organisation points out at the fact that minority representatives have continued to leave Kosovo out of fear for their security, and that Roma, Ashkalija and Kosovo Egyptians have found it particular difficult to make a decent livelihood in Kosovo.

The repatriation strategy agreed between UNMIK and the Kosovo authorities could be easily misunderstood as a sign that the Kosovo institutions are ready to accept refugee returns. For the moment, it is not yet clear whether the new state is stable and prepared to protect its minorities, the organisation warns.

The organisation underlines that returnees did not receive any help to integrate in past. Problems, which have kept the refugees from returning will not be resolved in a few months. For these reasons the organisation urges the German ministers of Interior not to speed up forced repatriations to Kosovo.

The full text of the statement is available here (in German).

Romano Them