News 27 Oct 14

Serbs Urge US to Support Return to Kosovo

Kosovo Serb refugees called for US embassy in Pristina to protect their rights, claiming they are forbidden to return to their houses in Kosovo.

Marija Ristic

The Association of Expelled Serbs from the Kosovo town of Djakovica wrote an open letter to the US ambassador to Pristina on Sunday, urging the US embassy to help ensure their right to return to Kosovo.

“You are aware that for 16 years we were not allowed to us to visit our homes, villages and the graves of our ancestors,” the association said in its letter to US ambassador Tracey Jacobson.

“In the name of the internally displaced Serbs, we ask you to receive our delegation which wants to familiarise you with our rights,” it added.

The association last week also called on the Serbian government office for Kosovo to help them return to their homes and to rebuild their destroyed houses.

“We don’t have the possibility of returning or even of visiting the graves of our ancestors, as the EU and KFOR [NATO’s Kosovo force] cannot guarantee our safety,” said Djokica Stanojevic, the president of the association.

Stanojevic said that similar letters will be sent to other embassies in Pristina on Monday.

Djakovica was a site of heavy fighting between Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war, and in 1999, the majority of Kosovo Albanians were expelled, while many civilians were killed.

The Hague Tribunal has convicted six senior Serb officials of crimes against Kosovo Albanians in Djakovica - Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nebojsa Pavkovic, Sreten Lukic, Vladimir Lazarevic and Vlastimir Djordjevic.

Following the signing of Kumanovo agreement which ended the conflict, all Kosovo Serbs were expelled from the area and their homes burned. Many of Serbs who were killed in the period after July 1999 are still listed as missing.

Some 150,000 Kosovo Serbs fled Kosovo after the war. According to UN data, some 90,000 people who fled are still living in Serbia, 6,600 in Montenegro, around 1,000 in Macedonia and some 130 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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