Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 10:34 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Macedonia

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Macedonia , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b459404.html [accessed 25 August 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.

Some 4,200 Macedonians were seeking refuge abroad as of December 31 2003, including 2,660 asylum seekers. An estimated 5,980 internally displaced people returned to their homes during 2003 and 250 refugees returned from Kosovo. However, at year-end another 2,680 people remained internally displaced and 1,490 Macedonians were refugees in Kosovo, principally ethnic Albanians, from the 2001 conflict. The Ohrid peace agreement between the government and ethnic Albanian insurgents ending that conflict continued to hold and, counting the 2003 returns, more than 95% of the 170,000 people uprooted by the conflict had returned.

After the government terminated temporary humanitarian status for the estimated 2,700 Roma and other minority Kosovars (Ashkali and Egyptians) at year-end 2002, an estimated 2,270 of them filed new asylum applications. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported only 12 newly arrived asylum seekers, 11 from Kosovo.

New Developments

UNHCR closed the Shuto Orizari camp where some 700 Kosovar Roma lived in early 2003, and offered assistance, termed inadequate by the refugees, to move into private accommodations. While they had lived in a camp of makeshift shacks and no sewage system for years, the refugees said private accommodation in Macedonia could be worse given the hostility of Macedonian society. UNHCR said their expectations for resettlement were unreasonable, while the refugees said they feared deportation if they moved to private accommodations.

In protest the refugees moved in May to the Greek border and set up a camp and sought resettlement in other European countries. In August, exhausted, they abandoned the border camp, moved to other locations, mostly private accommodations, and most filed for asylum.

Macedonia passed a new asylum law and revised its citizenship law. The institutional machinery and procedures were not in place at year-end 2003, but asylum seekers could file applications. The asylum law contains provisions for accelerated procedures and a so-called internal flight alternative (where hypothetically a refugee from Kosovo could be told to relocate to Serbia proper). Despite improvements in the law, Macedonia's past discriminatory practices left the Roma and human rights observers with concerns whether the law would be applied fairly to them.

About 150 Roma did not apply for asylum and remained of concern to UNHCR. Another 130 Roma were resettled, 120 of these to the United States. Another 130 Kosovar refugees relocated to Serbia and 60 voluntarily returned to Kosovo, assisted by UNHCR. In addition, under the old asylum law, which did not meet international standards, a few dozen asylum seekers from Kosovo who lost their cases were expelled back to Kosovo.

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