Bosnia needs one billion dollars for refugee return

MONACO, Mar 12, 2000 -- (AFP) Bosnia-Hercegovina needs one billion dollars to fund the return of some 400,000 refugees and displaced persons over the next two years, Social Affairs Minister Suleiman Garib said here Saturday.

This "ambitious" project covers the return of Bosnians, Croats and Serbs to their homes in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia, he told an economic conference.

He said more than 400,000 people in 100,000 families had expressed a desire to return to their homes.

The figures are based on those provided by the government in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The proposal will be presented to ambassadors in Sarajevo on Monday, he told AFP.

About 207,000 people are to be returned to Bosnia-Hercegovina, 178,000 to the Republika Srpska and 15,000 to the multi-ethnic Brcko district. The money also covers the reconstruction of some 90,000 homes, he said.

The one billion dollars will be raised through long-term loans with favorable interest rates, notably from the World Bank, with about a third of the total coming in the form of gifts from the international community.

The 1995 Dayton peace accords which ended the 1992-95 war foresaw the return of 1.2 million refugees and one million displaced persons to their homes.

To date only about a third of these people have returned home, Garib said, and the numbers of return is getting smaller because of financial constraints.

Original article