World Refugee Day, 20 June

Radio Ophelia, 107.2 FM Pristina, Peja/Pec and 106.5 FM Mitrovica)

On June 20 each year, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, believes now is the time to show world leaders that the global public stands #WithRefugees. To do this, UNHCR launched #WithRefugees petition in June to send a message to governments that they must work together and do their fair share for refugees.

This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.

Narasima Rao is the head of UNHCR Mission in Kosovo.

[Narasima Rao, Head UNHCR Kosovo office]

Return figures have been progressively decreasing for the last several years with an average per year going down to as low as 800 persons.

However, there is a great interest amongst the displaced population to come back. Some 10,000 have registered and expressed interest to return to Kosovo seeking UNHCR assistance. Although there are obstacles for return of some like security and property issues, a majority is facing problems like lack of housing. In order to support those who have expressed the interest to return, UNHCR mission in Kosovo is working closely with various municipalities, local and international partners.

On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, I urge all to facilitate the return of these people who are in desperate need.

 [Narrator]

Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian community was displaced in Montenegro and in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since 1999, where they were sheltered in the informal settlement of Konik, Montenegro and in Suto Orizare, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Muharrem Ibrahimi, a newly returned Internally Displaced Person that represents his newly established neighbourhood tells us more.

[Muharrem Ibrahimi, IDP returned from Konik, Montenegro]

The conditions to start with are good, we have returned seven months ago. There are many more interested to return back. Thanks to UNHCR, for six months we received aid.

[Narrator]

Despite Mr. Ibrahimi’s complains about the unemployment, he calls on other Internally Displaced Person to return.

[Muharrem Ibrahimi, IDP returned from Konik, Montenegro]

For the other Internally Displaced Persons, I would like to call them to return, because there is no place like home.

[Narrator]

Bashkim Kurti is the coordinator for the Rights of Communities and Integration in Gjakovë/Gjakovica Municipality.

[Bashkim Kurti, Coordinator for the Rights of Communities and Integration, Gjakovë/Gjakovica Municipality]

The municipality of Gjakovë/Gjakovica has allocated land for all the displaced families from Montenegro who wish to return voluntarily in municipality of Gjakovë/Gjakovica. The conditions for the returns are better than they used to be in Konik. The infrastructure it is regulated for better conditions needed for a family. The biggest difficulty for the returnees is the unemployment. 

[Narrator]

Armend Vokshi, the Head of General Administration works closely with the RAE community to improve their living conditions.

[Armend Vokshi, Head of General Administration, Gjakovë/Gjakovica Municipality]

We arranged a place for the returnees which is more attractive, that is close to the city centre that is in close distance to shops, schools, and sport activities.

[Narrator]

Number of voluntary minority returnees, who returned in Kosovo since 2000 until now is 26,763 persons. Estimated number of persons still displaced within Kosovo is 16,800. Out of these persons, 477 are still living in 29 temporary collective centres in Kosovo.

On the words of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “on this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere."