News 03 Apr 12

Refugee Centres in Serbia to Close by 2015

The EU aims to close all refugee centres in the country within the next two years, announced the EU ambassador to Serbia on Tuesday.

Marija Ristic

By granting apartments to 20 internally displaced families from Kosovo, the European Union was able to close one more refugee centre in Vranje, a south Serbian town.

Only 27 of the approximately 600 refugee centres that existed on Serbian territory in 1996 remain, and even these will close over the next two years with the aid of the European Union.

The EU ambassador to Serbia, Vincent Degert, says that it is the EU’s policy to enable all refugees to return to their homes in Bosnia and Croatia, and to continue intensive negotiations on refugee issues with both countries.

“However, for those who want to stay here, we are trying to provide the best possible conditions, which they deserve after the troubles and misfortune they have had in their life,” said Degert.

The EU has granted 315,000 Euros for building apartments for the refugees, while the rest of the money has been provided by the Swiss Agency for Support and Cooperation and the municipality of Vranje.

There are four refugee centres left in Vranje at present, with around one hundred refugees and internally displaced people still living there.

Serbia hosts the highest number of refugees in Europe, and is ranked 13th in the world in terms of refugee numbers.

The latest statistics from the Ministry for Labour and Social Politics indicates that there are 74,500 refugees living in Serbia at the moment, while the number of internally displaced people from Kosovo is estimated to be 200,000.

Between 2009 and 2011, the EU has funded the construction of 445 social housing units intended mainly for refugees and internally displaced people.

Through different grants and projects, the European Union has so far contributed around 64 million Euros to solving the problem of refugees in Serbia.

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