CEOL - UNHCR Demands urgent solution for displaced Roma

BELGRADE, Dec 10, 1999 -- (AFP) The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) demanded here Thursday that, with the onset of winter, an urgent solution be found for sheltering Roma displaced from Kosovo.

"The best solution would be their return home to Kosovo, but since that is not possible, the most important thing is to help them where they are now," UNHCR spokesman in Belgrade Maki Shinohara told a press conference.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 Roma have fled from Kosovo to the rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) since the arrival of the NATO-led KFOR troops in the province in June, according to UNHCR estimates.

These Roma have been displaced by violence from Kosovo Albanians who consider them to be collaborators with the Serbs, according to a report presented by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Monday.

On Tuesday, a Roma house was destroyed by a grenade attack in the western Kosovo town of Djakovica, but there were no casualties.

The main problem for the displaced Roma is the lack of adequate shelter, according to Shinohara.

She said a storm had destroyed 133 tents sheltering more than 1,300 Roma displaced from Kosovo in the village of Konik, near the Montenegrin capital Podgorica.

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