Number of minority Bosnian refugee returns triples

SARAJEVO, Jul 7, 2000 -- (AFP) The number of Bosnian refugees returning to areas controlled by another ethnic group has tripled since the beginning of the year, the UN refugee agency said Thursday.

The total number of registered minority returns for the first five months this year was 15,665, compared to 5,464 last year, a UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statement said.

A total 5,245 Serbs returned to their pre-war homes in the Muslim-Croat federation, while 5,839 Croats and Muslims returned to their pre-war homes that are now in Republika Srpska. The remainder includes Croats and Muslims returning to areas within the federation not controlled by their own ethnic group.

Almost five years after the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the country remains divided between three ethnic groups -- Croats, Muslims and Serbs.

In May alone, some 4,220 refugees returned to areas controlled by another ethnic group, which is almost twice as much as during the same period last year when the number of minority returns was 2,062, the statement said.

According to UNHCR, there are still over one million Bosnian refugees, almost one third of them displaced within the country.

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