Kosovo: UN refugee agency helping Ashkali families return to their homes

16 April 2002

In what the United Nations has called a "major step" in Kosovo's journey to joining a free and democratic Europe, six Ashkali, or Gypsy, families are returning today to their homes in the province.

Some Ashkali had left when other Kosovars, whose homes were destroyed during the 1999 conflict, occupied their houses, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said. European Union funding has supported the rebuilding of those destroyed houses, and the Ashkali residents of Vushtrii have expressed their willingness to come back.

Vushtrii municipal authorities and the local population have also supported the return of the Ashkali families, which was planned over the last year after the Vushtrii Municipal Assembly adopted a motion supporting their return.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is assisting the return of these families to Kosovo, UNMIK said, adding that the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes was "an important step in leaving behind the legacy of war and conflict."


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