Last Updated: Thursday, 08 December 2016, 17:52 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1999 - Macedonia

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 January 1999
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1999 - Macedonia , 1 January 1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8d330.html [accessed 9 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 1998, Macedonia continued to host about 1,250 Bosnian refugees. At that time, an estimated 6,000 Kosovar refugees were also living with ethnic Albanian families in Macedonia without having registered asylum claims. In fact, not a single Yugoslav citizen – Kosovar or otherwise – registered an asylum claim in Macedonia during the year. The closest thing to an official count came from the Macedonian Red Cross, which had registered 966 Kosovar Albanian refugees by year's end. Of that group, 30 percent were women, 24 percent girls, 21 percent men, and 25 percent boys.

Macedonia was extremely reluctant to acknowledge the presence of any Kosovar refugees on its soil. In August, the Macedonia Information Center denied reports that there were up to 20,000 "guests" from Kosovo in Macedonia, but said that the Ministry of Interior had recorded 16,068 visitors from Kosovo to Macedonia between March and June. The statement said that, at most, 6,000 Kosovars with tourist visas were staying in Macedonia.

Writing in response to a USCR inquiry about the number of Kosovar refugees in Macedonia, the Macedonian government responded that it only keeps records on foreign citizens on the basis of their citizenship, not their ethnicity. Therefore, it said that 65,217 Yugoslav citizens stayed in Macedonia in 1998 for business, tourism, or private visits, but that only 2,263 had been granted temporary residence permits for remaining beyond the 60 days Yugoslavs are permitted to stay in Macedonia without a visa. The government said that most of the Yugoslavs granted temporary residence permits did so on the basis of marriage or employment.

In January 1998, Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov touched off a heated debate when he suggested the establishment of "evacuation corridors" in the event of a mass influx of refugees from Kosovo. He suggested that such corridors would enable refugees to transit to Albania and not stay in Macedonia. Other Macedonians said that Macedonia should close its borders with Kosovo in the event of such an influx, arguing that refugees would stay among the ethnic Albanian population of Macedonia, and would risk destabilizing the country.

The Bosnian refugees remaining in Macedonia were allowed to remain on the basis of a temporary protection regime. Most of the Bosnian refugees in Macedonia, 1,200, originated in the Serb-controlled entity, Republika Srpska; the remainder, about 50, came from the Federation.

Asylum Law and Procedures

Macedonia's treatment of refugees and asylum seekers is based on its Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens, which provides for temporary protection or protection for humanitarian reasons. Individual asylum seekers may register claims with Macedonian diplomatic or consular missions, at the border, or within Macedonian territory, according to the law.

A new Law on Asylum has been drafted, but the parliament had not acted on it in 1998. In the meantime, the Interior Ministry is charged with deciding asylum cases according to procedures laid down in the Law on Movement and Stay of Aliens. According to that law, persons whose asylum claims are rejected in the first instance have the right, according to the government, "to submit a complaint to the Committee of the Government and the right for court protection in case of a denied request in the second instance."

The government declined to respond to a USCR inquiry on the number of asylum seekers and the disposition of their cases.

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