Fact sheet prepared by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and
January 22, 1997.
Almost 4 million people were forced from their homes following the outbreak of war in the former Yugoslavia in 1991. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a massive humanitarian relief effort to care for the refugees and internally displaced. The U.S. Government has been, and continues to be, a major contributor to the relief effort, providing more than $1 billion to date in support of humanitarian assistance to the region since 1991.
Today, approximately 2.1 million Bosnians remain either refugees or internally displaced. Almost 390,000 Croatian refugees are still outside that country's borders, and approximately 160,000 other Croatians are internally displaced.
U.S. policy supports safe and orderly repatriation. The Dayton agreement, signed in December 1995, affirms the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes, as well as restitution of, or compensation for, real property. The United States is working closely with the parties concerned and with UNHCR to promote repatriation. The United States also is helping to create an environment conducive to return by financing reconstruction activities.
Repatriation, however, remains slow. Only 250,000 people returned to their homes in Bosnia in 1996. Concern about security is the primary obstacle to refugee return, compounded by inadequate shelter and other infrastructure and lack of employment opportunities.
In addition to providing assistance to refugees and displaced inside the former Yugoslavia, the United States established a refugee admissions program in 1992. Under this program, particularly vulnerable Bosnian refugees--including former detention camp prisoners, women victims of violence, torture victims, and mixed-marriage cases--may be admitted for resettlement. The program also includes resettlement for close family members of Bosnians already in the United States. As of November 1996, the United States has admitted more than 32,000 Bosnians for permanent resettlement.
Those Bosnians who were in the United States when the war broke out were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), allowing them to stay until such time as it is safe to return home. This designation, which may be extended by the Attorney General, is currently valid until August 10, 1997.
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