DACIC: SERBIA HOME TO 29,000 REFUGEES FROM CROATIA, BOSNIA
BELGRADE, 17 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbia's deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said on March 17 that more than 20 years after the 1990s conflicts, Serbia was still home to nearly 30,000 refugees from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a foundation stone laying ceremony for 40 new apartments intended for refugees in Sremska Mitrovica, which will be built as part of a regional housing program, Dacic said that 150,000 refugees had returned to their countries of origin, but that a vast majority had opted for permanent integration in Serbia, as they were unable to exercise their rights in their states of origin. Dacic said that three years ago an agreement was signed for the first sub-project within the Regional Housing Program, and that over 2,200 refugee families have been selected so far, explaining that the remaining users would be selected by the end of the month. "The fact is that nearly 29,000 people live in Serbia with refugee status, 20,334 are from Croatia, and 9,080 from Bosnia and Herzegovina," Dacic said. Dacic said that back in the 1990s Serbia accepted over 600,000 refugees from Croatia and Bosnia, and over 200,000 internally displaced persons from KiM, which might be why in the latest migrant crisis Serbia has been treating refugees more humanely as it understands their difficult situation. The regional housing programs, designed as part of a joint initiative by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, should provide a lasting housing solution to the refugee community. The program has been supported by several international organizations, the European Union and the United States.