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17 May 2010
Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 created new uncertainty for the 19,700 people internally displaced within Kosovo, as well as for the 230,000 IDPs from Kosovo who were still residing in Serbia by the end of 2009. However there has been no further displacement since 2008. Serbia has not recognised the independence of Kosovo, continuing to regard it as a UN-governed entity within its sovereign territory.
Living conditions are difficult and opportunities for IDPs to integrate are scarce where they are in a minority. Security concerns have prevented most from returning to repossess their property. Because of their limited freedom of movement and the discrimination they face, IDPs’ access to land and employment has been very poor. Most Serb IDPs reside in enclaves and rely on a parallel system of education, policing, and health care supported by Serbia. However, they are increasingly approaching Kosovo institutions to obtain valid personal documentation or social benefits.
The rate of return fell in 2008 from an already low level, as IDPs waited to evaluate the approach of the Kosovo authorities towards non-Albanian communities. It increased only slightly in 2009 to 760, including 215 returns within Kosovo. In the meantime, reconstructed houses remained empty or were being sold as people did not dare to return.
The most vulnerable IDPs are Roma people, who have specific protection needs because of their social marginalisation and lack of civil documentation. This prevents them from registering as IDPs and limits their access to housing assistance and other social benefits, condemning them to inadequate living conditions. An increasing number of projects target minority communities to prevent displacement or offer permanent housing in the place of displacement, which seems to offer the best prospect of durable solution for Kosovo Serb IDPs.
Note: In February 2008 Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. The UN General Assembly subsequently voted to refer the independence declaration to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. As of December 2009, 64 countries had recognised Kosovo. For the purpose of this overview, references to the situation in “Serbia” since 2008 do not include Kosovo.
Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 created new uncertainty for 230,000 IDPs from Kosovo residing in Serbia and the 19,700 displaced within Kosovo; this overview focuses on the latter group. Despite initial fears of the contrary, there have been no major incidents targeting minority communities and no further displacement since 2008. Serbia has not recognised the independence of Kosovo, continuing to regard it as a UN-governed entity within its sovereign territory. (...)
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22 January 2010