news 29 Jan 13

Bosnian Serb Minister Asks Croat Refugees to Return

The refugees minister from Bosnia’s Serb-run entity Republika Srpska said funds were available to help families who fled to Croatia during wartime to go home.

Boris Pavelic

Republika Srpska’s refugees minister Davor Cordas said that after the money was raised by a donor conference in Sarajevo last year, Bosnian Croats should now apply to return.

"About 350 million dollars has been collected so far," said Cordas on Monday during a visit to the Croatian city of Slavonski Brod on the border with Bosnia, where many refugees live.

Cordas said that 170 war-damaged houses in Republika Srpska would soon be renovated as part of the refugee return programme initiated at the Sarajevo conference which was organised jointly by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

The programme aims to resolve the housing problems of 27,000 refuge families in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia.

Among the homes to be renovated are 50 properties formerly inhabited by Croats who fled Republika Srpska during the 1990s conflict, Cordas said.

"This opportunity could be the last one to renovate a house, so it is important for people to apply," he appealed.

About 200,000 Croats fled Republika Srpska during the war and it’s estimated that only around five per cent of them have returned so far.

The Bosnian government last week also called on refugees to apply to come back and settle permanently in the country that they left around 20 years ago.

Bosnia says it will be able to build homes for a total of 5,400 refugee families.

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