Serbian refugee situation still a big problem

UN data for 2010 show Serbia harbors more refugees than any other European country.

At a press conference in Belgrade marking World Refugee Day on June 20, a coalition of refugee groups critiqued the European Union for its glossing over of the human rights record of Croatia, a candidate for EU membership. At issue for them is the continued suffering of Serbians displaced in the 1990s wars that dismembered Yugoslavia.

The conflicts led to 700,000 Serbians - 10 percent of the population - gaining refugee status at one time or another. Some 65,000 of them still lack Serbian citizenship. UN official Eduardo Arboleda says that 45,000 poverty stricken Serbian refugees need help urgently, as do 28,000 similarly afflicted refugees in other remnants of the former Yugoslavia. Lack of pensions and housing are major problems.

On June 15, EU representative in Serbia Vincent Degert announced preparatory steps toward the creation of a "joint regional body" to deal with refugees.

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