News 03 Apr 17

Kosovo Condemns Attack on Serb Returnees’ House

Officials condemned an arson attack on a Serb returnee family’s house and criticised an anti-returnee protest, saying they made it harder for conflict-displaced Serbs to go back to live in Kosovo.

Shkodran Nikci
BIRN
Pristina
The house that was attacked in Dragoljevac. Photo: Ministry for Returns and Communities.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci issued a condemnation after police said on Monday that there had been an arson attack on a Serb returnee family’s house which was under construction in the village of Dragoljevac in the Istog/Istok municipality.

Thaci wrote on Facebook that “any interethnic incident, no matter how minor it is, harms the peace, stability and the process of reconciliation in our multi-ethnic society”.

“We cannot build a better future if we remain hostage to the past,” he added.

The damage was minor and no injuries were reported, police said.

“The fire was set at the entrance door of the house as well as in styrofoam materials [outside the house],” police said in a statement.

But the Ministry for Returns and Communities expressed concern about what it said were repeated incidents affecting returnees in the Istog/Istok municipality.

Last week, a group of Albanian residents in the village of Lubozhde/Ljubozda, around eight kilometres away, protested against the planned return of 13 Serb families who have been displaced since the end of the war in Kosovo in 1999.

“The Ministry of Communities and Returns has difficulty in all areas of returns and these incidents further complicate the hard work of return of those who are interested in returning,” the ministry said in a statement.

It called on the police to resolve such cases “so that returnees are confident and return is successful”.

The Serbia government said last year that more than 200,000 Serbs from Kosovo are still displaced and living in Serbia.

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