10 500 Kosovar refugees to be deported from CH

BERN, May 31, 2000 -- (AFP) Some 10,500 Kosovar refugees living in Switzerland will be forced to leave starting June 1, one day after the deadline for voluntary departures, the Swiss federal office for refugees announced Tuesday.

Switzerland's cantons unanimously voted earlier this month to start forced repatriations on Thursday of those refugees who had not previously declared themselves to Swiss authorities.

Some 14,500 refugees were affected by the move, but 4,000 of them asked for or received extensions because they were ethnic minorities in Kosovo or because they had young children in school.

Between July 1999 and April of this year, more than 32,000 Kosovars applied to receive financial aid from the Swiss government to return voluntarily to their homeland.

Refugees applying before the end of 1999 received 2,000 Swiss francs (1,270 euros, 1,185 dollars) per adult and 1,000 francs per child.

Starting in 2000, refugees were eligible to receive half the initial amount offered by the Swiss government.

More than 100,000 Kosovars have been sent home from 32 European countries since the end of the war last year by the International Migration Organization, which has agreed to help Switzerland repatriate the refugees remaining there.

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