Increase of refugee returns to Bosnia

BANJA LUKA, Jul 5, 2000 -- (AFP) Some 10,000 Bosnian Muslim and Croat refugees returned to the Serb-run half of Bosnia in the first five months of this year, a Bosnian Serb official said Tuesday.

In all "2,870 refugee families returned into the Republika Srpska (RS) during the first five months of the year," said Petar Dzodan, RS deputy minister for refugees.

Among the returnees there were 2,422 Muslim and 428 Croats families, Dzodan said, adding that a total of about 10,000 people returned to their pre-war homes.

Dzodan said that the number of returns into the RS this year, notably in urban areas, saw an increase compared with 1999.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) figures some 17,000 refugees returned to the RS in 1999.

Five years after the Dayton peace agreement ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war, 1.2 million refugees are still waiting to return to their homes, the UNHCR figures show. Two-thirds are displaced within the country.

The UNHCR recently announced that the rate of minority returns -- the return of Muslim, Croat or Serb refugees in an area under the control of another ethnic group -- was on the increase in Bosnia.

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