Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2017, 12:39 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Macedonia

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Macedonia , 1 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3eddc499c.html [accessed 26 May 2017]
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 2002, around 8,500 persons remained internally displaced within Macedonia as a result of the conflict in 2001.

During the year, about 5,000 Macedonians sought asylum abroad. Large numbers filed claims in Switzerland (1,100), Austria (740), Sweden (500), Germany (500), and Belgium (340). Around 750 who had fled the 2001 conflict remained in Kosovo at year's end and less than 100 remained in southern Serbia. The majority of Macedonians in Serbia and Kosovo were ethnic Albanians from Macedonia, although there were some Roma.

Macedonia also hosted more than 2,700 refugees and asylum seekers, almost all of them ethnic Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians (RAE) from Kosovo with Temporary Humanitarian Assisted Person (THAP) status. There were also 4 persons with pending claims at the first-instance level, 1 person granted asylum, and 30 Bosnians without status or protection who fled the civil war in Bosnia.

Asylum and THAP Status

Nearly all of the refugees in Macedonia at the end of the year were non-Albanians from Kosovo granted THAP status (2,700) in 2002. The authorities renewed THAP status through March 2003. Persons with THAP are not permitted to work and are therefore dependent on international humanitarian assistance. Persons with THAP status are not eligible to apply for asylum according to Macedonian law. The government grants THAP by directive, and reviews the status approximately every six months to determine if THAP status holders remain in need of temporary protection. Conditions in both host families and collective centers where they stayed remained poor. The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) counts the RAE from Kosovo with THAP status among refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection because they remained subject to ethnic persecution in Yugoslavia, and yet THAP status precludes them from applying for asylum.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) considered another 30 Bosnians "persons of concern" since they do not have legal status in Macedonia, but would be vulnerable upon return to Bosnia and Herzegovina. USCR counts them among refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection because, although they are eligible to apply for asylum in Macedonia, the documented inadequacy of the asylum process does not make this a reasonable protection option.

Around 120 asylum seekers filed claims in Macedonia in 2002, the majority of them from Kosovo and mostly ethnic RAE. During the year, the government made decisions on 53 cases (involving 120 persons): 1 person was recognized as a refugee (a Kosovar Albanian), 42 claims were rejected at the first-instance level, 9 claims were withdrawn, and 1 decision (involving 4 persons) was pending at the first-instance level. There were 25 cases pending on appeal.

UNHCR facilitated the repatriation of around 260 Kosovars to Yugoslavia during the year, including 80 persons to Kosovo, and 180 to southern Serbia. Others returned without assistance. The Kosovars in Serbia have become internally displaced persons within Yugoslavia. The Macedonian authorities did not forcibly return rejected asylum seekers.

UNHCR also facilitated the resettlement of around 230 refugees to countries outside the region in 2002, the bulk of them were Yugoslavs (170) resettled to the United States.

The authorities allowed all ethnic Gorani who had fled from Kosovo to apply for citizenship in 2002.

Asylum Law and Procedures

The Interior Ministry adjudicates asylum cases. Persons denied asylum have the right to administrative and court appeals but, in practice, the courts do not generally overturn initial decisions. On appeal, the applicant is not heard and the official who made the decision in the initial proceeding participates in the administrative appeals commission who issues the appeal decision. The final level of appeals is the Supreme Court. UNHCR reports that at both appeal levels more training of decision makers is required.

UNHCR reports poor interviews and poor analysis of the information gathered by the decision makers at the initial stage. In particular, adjudicators place undue emphasis on internal flight alternative, without balancing it against protection principles.

A draft asylum law from 1998, with revisions made in 2000, was still waiting to be submitted to parliament for approval. The Aliens Law, which grants no complimentary forms of protection to those denied asylum, governed Macedonia's treatment of asylum applications during the year.

Recognized refugees receive identity cards. The duration of their residence permits is determined by age (7 years for persons under 26; 15 years for persons 26 to 50; and permanent for persons over 50). Recognized refugees bearing identity cards are eligible for medical benefits and other benefits comparable to those of other permanent residents.

Refugees from Macedonia UNHCR reported that the main obstacle for return for those who remain outside Macedonia appears to be property destruction.

Readmission Agreements

Macedonia entered into readmission agreements with the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, and Croatia during 2002, although the latter two agreements had yet to be implemented. An agreement with Germany was signed but not ratified. Recognized refugees must find their own accommodation, but may stay with asylum seekers in collective centers until they do.

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