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Top UN official in Kosovo appeals for resources to fund return of Kosovo Serbs

Top UN official in Kosovo appeals for resources to fund return of Kosovo Serbs

The top United Nations official in Kosovo today appealed to international donors for resources for the "safe and sustainable return of Kosovo Serbs" to the province.

Addressing a meeting of donor countries in Pristina, Hans Haekkerup, head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), urged donors to take steps to start the process before the November elections, and stressed that "collective efforts" should be made.

According to Mr. Haekkerup, three elements should be in place for returns to be "successful and sustainable:" a safe and secure environment with an acceptable level of freedom of movement for returnees; an inter-ethnic dialogue among political and community leaders to build confidence among communities; and a substantial commitment of resources on the part of the international community.

"The survival and economic livelihood of those returning will ultimately depend on the level of housing and infrastructure reconstruction, on employment creation and on working and accessible public services," Mr. Haekkerup said.

Eric Morris, Special envoy for the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told the meeting that Serb leaders in Kosovo and Belgrade had complained that the Framework of Returns was insufficient. Andy Bearpark, deputy UNMIK chief of reconstruction, said the Department of Reconstruction had done a damage assessment of sites identified for returns. Such assessment would be given to the donors, with whom the Department would work closely to carry out reconstruction.