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OSCE CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF RETURNEES IN KOSOVO


8.10.2011. / TANJUG

OSCE Mission in Kosovo Deputy Head Edward Joseph Friday voiced concern over the recent spate of burglaries and looting in the village of Babljak.

“In the last week alone four properties were reported looted, and the local Orthodox cemetery was set on fire. A further ten properties were burglarized and looted in August and September,” an OSCE release says.

"Such incidents create a feeling of insecurity and vulnerability among this small returnee community. Situations like Babljak have a negative impact on the overall returns process in Kosovo", Joseph stressed.

“While the Mission has noted action taken to date, I call upon authorities to make further efforts to provide security for the returnees in this village and throughout Kosovo. Special focus is needed to protect property, housing and agricultural land. A good first step would be to proactively reach out to affected communities and to publicly condemn all incidents,” he said.

While previous incidents in Babljak affected properties not recently used, the latest lootings and burglaries targeted houses left unattended for just a few days. This has fuelled fear among the returnee community that inhabited houses could be targeted next, resulting in a more direct threat to their personal safety.

Similar incidents affect many other returnee sites and call for a wider response by responsible institutions.

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is mandated with human rights protection and promotion. The Mission will continue to proactively monitor respect for human and community rights Kosovo-wide and will continue to engage with local institutions and communities to help promote safety and the creation of multi-ethnic society where the rights of all people are protected, the release says.



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