Int'l meeting held to seek lasting solution for refugees in former Yugoslav

09:50, March 26, 2010      

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The foreign ministers of Serbia , Croatia , Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina announced they would intensify efforts to collectively resolve the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons in the region on Thursday.

Attending the international conference entitled "Lasting solution for refugees and displaced persons: regional cooperation in the Euro-integration process" in Belgrade, foreign ministers Gordan Jandrokovic of Croatia, Milan Rocen of Montenegro, Vuk Jeremic of Serbia and Sven Alkalaj of Bosnia were also joined by representatives of the European Union, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

An estimated 250,000 people on the territory of the former Yugoslavia are refugees or internally displaced persons. According to Jeremic, Serbia with 86,000 registered refugees was one of the top five countries in the world dealing with long-term refugees. Nonetheless, he said that the issue should be resolved without discriminating against refugees.

"The concern for people who are refugees and displaced is a collective task for all of us," stated Jeremic at a joint press conference, according to Serbian state television.

Bosnia's Alkalaj said that after 15 years since the end of hostilities, it was a "moral and political obligation" to give people the option of returning to their pre-war homes or of remaining where they have since been integrated into society, according to Serbian state news agency Tanjug.

Along with the problems of adequate housing and security concerns, the other main issues faced by refugees and displaced persons were identified as the consolidation of pension plans and recognition of work seniority.

A follow-up donors conference, to be scheduled before the end of the year, was announced at the conference. Its aim would be to attract funding for the return of refugees, their integration into their former communities and the closure of collective centers.

Source: Xinhua
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