News 21 Jun 12

Serbia Marks World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day was marked on Wednesday by the authorities and the US Embassy, one of the major donors towards refugees in Serbia.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Serbian State Commissioner for Refugees Vladimir Cucic and US Ambassador in Serbia, Mary Warlick visiting refugee camp I Photo by Beta 

Serbia's State Commissioner for Refugees, Vladimir Cucic, and the US Ambassador to Serbia, Mary Warlick, on Wednesday visited the refugee camp at Krnjaca in Belgrade, one of 27 refugee camps left in Serbia.

Cucic and Warlick visited two families from Croatia with whom they discussed the main problems that refugees face.   

Afterwards, they held a press conference, which was interrupted by Dragana Ivkovic, a 70-year-old refugee from Croatia, who used the presence of the media to remind the authorities that refugees' property issues in Croatia still have not been settled.

The US Ambassador said she had been touched by the stories she had heard, adding that she will advocate for the property issue to be settled permanently.

The United States has given 30 million dollars to  refugee initiatives so far, making the US the second largest donor after the European Union, which has given 70 million euros to date.

Cucic said it was appalling that the plight of refugees was usually remembered only when the World Refugee Day was marked.

According to Serbia's Refugees Office, 3,000 people still live in designated refugee camps, while another 2,000 people live in unofficial camps that are not supported by the state.

The joint plan of the Serbian authorities and international donors is to close all refugee camps by 2015.

Official data says there are 66,400 refugees from Bosnia and Croatia and 210,000 internally displaced people from Kosovo in Serbia. 

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