5 November 2008 Participants of the public hearing

5 November 2008 Participants of the public hearing

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Public Hearing on “Improvement of the Position of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia”

At the Initiative of the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues, a public hearing on the “Improvement of the Position of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia” was held at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.



At the Initiative of the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues, a public hearing on the “Improvement of the Position of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia” was held at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.

Opening the public debate, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Prof. Dr Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, reminded all present that during the 1990s Serbia had given refuge to hundreds of thousands of refugees from the regions of ex-SFRY. Djukic-Dejanovic pointed out that many of them have in the meantime become naturalised, but that Serbia still has about 97 000 people with refugee status and an additional 206 000 internally displaced persons who are currently unable to return to their homes. The Speaker explained that in spite of the numerous problems it faced, over the years, the Republic of Serbia has offered protection and help, with the support of UNHCR and other international donors, but many people still deal with great problems in every day life, while a significant number of them, particularly of Roma national minority, live below the line of human dignity. The Speaker of the National Assembly called upon the deputies to actively participate in all the processes concerning the improvement of the position of refugees and displaced persons in Serbia.

The Chairman of the Committee on Labour, Ex-Servicemen’s and Social Issues, Meho Omerovic stated that this is the second public hearing at the National Assembly on the position of refugees and displaced persons, and it was organised to give voice to the problems they still face and a possible way to permanently solve the issue of refugees in the region.

The Head of the UNHCR Representative Office for Serbia, Lennart Kotsalainen, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Rasim Ljajic, Assistant Minister for Kosov-Metohija and Head of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo-Metohija, Zvonimir Stevic, Commissioner for Refugees, Vladimir Cucic, Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, Hans Ola Urstad and Group 484 Executive Director, Miodrag Shrestha participated in the debate, as well as deputies, and representatives of refugee associations. Most of the speakers agreed that a lot has been done on the improvement of the position of refugees, the fact that in 1996 there were about 700 collective centres, but today there are 75 also points to it. The key to the solution of the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons lies in their integration into society or a feasible return into their mother countries, but it was deemed that there is still no political will in the countries of the region to solve the problem. The joint conclusion was that it is necessary to fully implement the Sarajevo Declaration and that the manner of its implementation will be discussed at the meeting at the beginning of December of this year in Geneva.

The opening speeches were followed by a discussion where the participants pointed out the problems of refugees and displaced persons in Serbia.


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