Coordinator of the Serbian Office of the Commissioner for Refugees and Migration for Kosovo and Metohija, Dragan Velic, claims that just over 1% of the expelled Serbs have truly returned to the province over the past 12 years.
He told the International Radio Serbia that this is a devastating fact, given the funds allocated for the process of return and its logistics. Velic adds that it is not only his position, but also a conclusion of relevant international organizations researching the return. The international community and the Kosovo Government, however, speak about 20,000 returns..
This year has been one of the worst when the return of Serbs to Kosovo and Metohija is at issue. According to data available to the Serbian Government Office of the Commissioner for Refugees and Migration just over 200 people have returned. Such a low return primarily results from the fact that the international community left this important job to the Kosovo Government, which has neither human resources nor a desire for the Serbs to return in greater numbers.
The Serbian Office of the Commissioner is , unfortunately, not one of the main links in the return process, but we assist returnees, internally displaced and vulnerable persons in various ways. Last year, we distributed 100 packages of building materials worth 440,000 dinars to address the housing needs of refugees and displaced persons in six municipalities. We also had 50 of the so-called income package in order to financially strengthen these families. Velic says that food worth 5 million was distributed as well as more than 30,000 fruit seedlings. A hundred families received one-time financial assistance, while the most vulnerable families received firewood.
Yet the biggest challenge is the closure of collective centers o which there are still another 11 in Kosovo.
Last year, the centers were closed according to the expected schedule, and late in 2012, another two centers were closed in Zubin Potok and Leposavic. In 2011, four collective centers were closed. The Office of the Commissioner announced that this was possible because over twenty houses in the villages of Jagnjenica and Zupce near Zubin Potok were finished, but also because of an internal audit of tenants living in collective centers, which found that many persons have their own apartments, or that they are not socially compromised. For these reasons, 65 persons left collective centers with some financial help.
Coordinator of the Serbian Office of the Commissioner for Refugees and Migration for Kosovo and Metohija Dragan Velic hopes that in the next few years, all of the remaining collective centers in the province, will be closed and their current occupants permanently well-arranged . The plans for that already exist and everything will depend on the flow of money.