17 Mar 15
Refugees in Montenegro Plan Return to Kosovo
Hundreds of refugees who fled Kosovo during the late 1990s and are now living in Montenegro say they are ready to go home if the authorities in both countries assist them.
The Konik refugee camp in Podgorica.
The head of the Montenegro’s Directorate for Refugees, Zeljko Sofranac, said on Monday that at least 700 people from Kosovo, mostly from the Pec/Peja area, are ready to go back.
Sofranac said that the Montenegrin and Kosovo governments were also to provide financial support to the returnees in terms of help with buying land in the Pec/Peja area.
He was speaking after meeting the mayor of Pec/Peja, Gazmend Muhadzeri, to discuss the possibilities for the return of internally displaced persons.
“We have received assurances from Pec’s local authorities that they are more than willing to allocate seven plots of land to build houses in the area to which ten refugee families already returned in 2014,” Sofranac said.
Muhadzeri said the Pec/Peja municipality was willing to accommodate all those who wish to return.
“For those who do not have land, the local authorities will offer support,” he promised.
According to government data, around 11,000 refugees from Kosovo have the temporary status of internally displaced people in Montenegro. Over 3,000 are Roma living in a rundown refugee camp near Podgorica.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, a Council of Europe human rights body, recently urged the closure of the camp as soon as possible.
In May 2011, the two governments agreed to aid the voluntary return to Kosovo of refugees now residing in Montenegro.
The process began in 2013 when 14 families, a total of 64 people, returned to Kosovo aided by a programme that provided a house, grants to start a business, furniture and firewood.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)