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UN agency concerned over plight of ethnic Albanians in FYR of Macedonia

UN agency concerned over plight of ethnic Albanians in FYR of Macedonia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed concern over the stalemate in negotiations in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia between the Government and the country's ethnic Albanian community.

"We are urging all concerned to make every possible effort to avoid more confrontation which would inevitably cause more suffering and displacement of civilians," spokesman Kris Janowski told the press today in Geneva. "UNHCR believes that it is crucial that an agreement be reached soon so that the people uprooted by the conflict are able to return home."

According to the UN agency, the longer displaced people remain uprooted, the more mistrust will exist between the country's ethnic communities and the more difficult their possible return will be. The confusion surrounding the possible outcome of negotiations in the FYR of Macedonia has influenced the behaviour of ethnic Albanians in the country, the spokesman said. He added that some of them continue to flee, fearing a resumption of fighting, while others return to their homes, hoping for peace.

UNHCR reported this week that some 62,000 Albanians from the FYR of Macedonia remain in Kosovo, although about 12,000 have returned home.