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Great Seal

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Deputy Spokesman
Press Statement

 

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Press Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman
August 10, 2000

Croatian Refugee Returns

We applaud the efforts of Croatian President Stjepan Mesic and Prime Minister Ivica Racan in promoting democratic reforms, working toward reconciliation and in welcoming minority returns to Croatia. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 8,000 refugees have returned to Croatia in organized movements this year. The total number of returnees so far this year could be as many as 20,000 more because many refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have returned outside of official programs. Since 1998, UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that more than 26,300 persons have officially registered as having returned to Croatia.

At their meeting yesterday, President Clinton informed President Mesic and Prime Minister Racan that the United States is contributing an additional $4.5 million contribution to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help returning refugees and internally displaced persons in Croatia. This brings to $27 million the total U.S. contribution this year earmarked for assisting returnees in Croatia.

By supporting minority returns, the United States and the international community are reversing the "ethnic-cleansing" that tore apart the former Yugoslavia and horrified the world in the 1990s. The refugees and internally displaced persons who return home are to be commended for their courage. It is not easy. In Bosnia recently, there have been incidents of homes being burned down and returning refugees and internally displaced persons being assaulted. These acts are isolated incidents and should be stopped by all means possible.

We call on the leadership in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to step up evictions of persons illegally occupying homes and for the restitution of property to its original owners. Bosnia and Croatia have started down that path, but efforts must be redoubled. We hope that Croatia will consider and implement the property restitution legislation necessary for persons to return home in even greater numbers.

It is crucial for the international community to continue to support these people who have suffered so much.

[end of document]

 

 


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