At year's end, Macedonia hosted more than 9,000 refugees in need of protection, down from 17,000 in 1999. Repatriation of ethnic Albanians to Kosovo during the year accounted for much of the decrease. Of the refugees in Macedonia at the end of 2000, 8,878 were from Kosovo, 170 from Bosnia, and 2 were from countries outside the region.

Some 58 Kosovars, mostly members of ethnic minorities, sought refuge in Macedonia during the year and were granted temporary protection. An additional eight asylum seekers from countries outside the region sought asylum in Macedonia in 2000. The Macedonian government granted refugee status to one applicant, denied the application of one claimant, and closed the cases of the other six because they did not appear for their interviews and were thought to have left Macedonia. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) considered the denied applicant, who appealed his case during the year, to be in need of protection.

Conflict in southern Serbia in 2000 reportedly did not result in significant numbers of refugees crossing into Macedonia. Those who did go to Macedonia reportedly did not register as refugees but as temporary visitors.

During the 1999 Kosovo crisis, 360,000 people sought refuge in Macedonia. While 92,000 were evacuated to third countries during the height of the crisis, almost all of those who remained in Macedonia during the war repatriated in the second half of 1999.

Refugees from Kosovo

Of the 8,878 refugees from Kosovo in Macedonia at the end of 2000, more than 70 percent were members of ethnic minorities who fled reprisals from returning ethnic Albanian refugees during the second half of 1999. Roma, with 3,934 persons registered, were the largest minority refugee group, followed by ethnic Macedonians (1,409), ethnic Serbs (457), Ashkalis (221), and Gorani (217). There were also small numbers of other minorities such as Bosniaks, "Egyptians," and ethnic Turks.

UNHCR also registered 802 ethnic Albanians remaining in Macedonia at the end of the year, as well as another 1,600 refugees from Kosovo whose ethnic background was unknown.

All refugees from Kosovo received temporary protection, which the Macedonian government periodically renewed, most recently until September 2001. The government reportedly did not allow recipients of temporary protection to work.

During the year, 1,710 Kosovo Roma, 221 Ashkalis, and 235 ethnic Albanians lived in six collective centers. The remainder resided with host families or had found their own accommodations. Both refugees in collective centers, and those residing in private accommodations remained dependent on international humanitarian assistance in 2000.

Like Macedonian Roma, Roma refugees from Kosovo reportedly faced discrimination from both Macedonia's ethnic Albanian and ethnic Macedonian communities during the year.

While the number of ethnic Albanian refugees in Macedonia continued to decrease during the year as more returned to Kosovo, poor security in Kosovo prevented the return of refugees belonging to ethnic minorities. Although UNHCR facilitated "go-and-see visits" for minority refugees expressing an interest, it did not actively promote the repatriation of Kosovar minorities.

Other Vulnerable Populations

Some 170 Bosnian refugees, mostly from Republika Srpska, lived in Macedonia at the end of 2000, down from 400 a year earlier. Repatriation accounted for the decrease.

Several thousand residents of Macedonia (mostly ethnic Albanians and Roma) remained stateless. Citizens of the former Yugoslavia, they had not applied for citizenship by 1993 as required by Macedonia when it became an independent state. Although the government lowered its residency requirement for citizenship from 15 to 10 years in 1999, it did not pass legislation in 2000 to implement the change. Roma applicants for citizenship generally found it difficult to prove their residence and a regular income, both requirements for citizenship. Roughly 25 percent of Macedonia's population of 2.2 million are ethnic Albanian, and at least 2 percent are Roma.

Asylum Law and Procedures

Although legislators introduced a draft asylum law for consideration in 2000, the Parliament had not passed any asylum legislation by year's end. The aliens law, therefore, governed Macedonia's treatment of individual asylum seekers during the year.

The Interior Ministry adjudicates asylum cases. Persons denied asylum have the right to administrative and court appeals.

The Macedonian government reported that recognized refugees receive permanent residence permits, health care benefits, and two years of integration assistance, including accommodation.


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