Skopje, 28 February 2008 – The effective denial of refugee protection from the side of the Macedonian authorities and fears of an eventual forced repatriation to Kosovo were topics on the agenda of a meeting between the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, and representatives of the Kosovo Roma refugee community in Macedonia.

The refugees pointed out to the Commissioner that out of some 2,100 applicants only 28 people had been granted refugee protection on the basis of the 1951 Geneva convention. They also said that they were afraid of being forcibly returned to Kosovo, where they felt their security was not guaranteed.

Referring to the example of Bosnia-Herzegovina, they asked for the possibility of third country settlement to be opened to those refugees who are unable either to return to Kosovo, or to integrate locally.

The Commissioner will present the first conclusions of his five days visit to Macedonia at a press conference in Skopje today.

Romano Them