UNHCR Warns Against Forced Expulsion of Kosovo Roma Refugees from Germany
10 July 2002
On May 27, 2002, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees cautioned German officials not to expel Kosovo minority groups currently living in Germany back to Kosovo, according to the Belgrade radio station B92 of the same day. Mr Stefan Berglund, Chief of UNHCR's German Office, was quoted by B92 as having stated that "the members of ethnic minorities – Serbs, Roma, Ashkalia and Slavic Muslims – are still under danger in Kosovo" and that "international protection is still required." According to the "UNHCR Position on the Continued Protection Needs of Individuals from Kosovo", released on April 30, 2002, UNHCR states that "General inter-ethnic tension and intolerance are compounded by particular discrimination against the RAE [Roma, Ashkalija and Egyptians] by almost all other ethnic groups in Kosovo, exacerbating the degree of hardship they face. […] Despite comprehensive and cautious planning for return, incidents such as the stoning of returnee homes continue to take place." (Full text of UNHCR's position on the sustained protection needed for citizens in Kosovo )
According to UNHCR, to date, Germany hosts between 25,000 and 30,000 members of Kosovo minority groups, while "the number of ethnic Serbs among them is very low."
Following the UNHCR warning, on May 29, 2002, the news agency Agence France Press reported that on the same day, 1,000 Roma arrived in the western German city of Essen to protest against the pending deportation of approximately 250 Sinti and Roma refugees from the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. According to the Agence France Press, the Sinti and Roma to be deported are afraid to return to the region, but German officials had rejected their asylum claims.