Refugees and village renewal in Yugoslavia
Using statistics collected by UNHCR and the Serbian government, the paper examines aspects of the refugee problem in FR Yugoslavia whose war-affected population amounted to 646 066 persons in 1996 (a figure that is almost certainly an underestimate). Relatively few refugees will return to their homes even with a political settlement because so many homes are damaged or destroyed. Many people would like to settle in Western Europe and some have already succeeded (especially in Scandinavia where asylum seekers from Former Yugoslavia accounted for 80 percent of the applications in January-September 1993). But regulations are being tightened and asylum seekers are now facing deportation. Housing refugees in FRY is expensive (only 350 refugees got new homes and permanent citizenship in 1994), but some exchanges have been arranged between Serbs arriving from Croatia and Croats established in Vojvodina who are willing to move in the opposite direction. The most promising solution discussed in the paper is resettlement in border villages which have experienced steady depopulation since the Second World War. Houses are available for refurbishment and arable land is cheap. The resettlement of refugee farmers could make an immediate impact on food production and over the longer term there could be sustained economic growth in the context of a newly-constituted Euroregion. Such a strategy would make a virtue out of necessity by helping the refugees and the border regions which have had their potential enhanced by cross-border cooperation.
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