Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on status cessation for refugees from the Republic of Croatia
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Ministry of Foreign AffairsThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its deep dissatisfaction at today's recommendation by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees concerning status cessation for refugees from the Republic of Croatia. The decision was adopted by the High Commissioner without consultation with UN Member States and in defiance of explicit disapproval of the Republic of Serbia as the country with the largest number of refugees from the Republic of Croatia (41.861).

The Republic of Serbia has reiterated on several occasions, at the highest levels within the UN, its unambiguous disagreement with the UNHCR initiative aimed at the adoption of an unfounded and apparently political decision, since no sustainable solutions have been envisaged with regard to the status of refugees, particularly their sustainable return to Croatia. We have drawn attention to the impact that the initiative may have on the relations in the region, as well as on the implementation of the Regional Housing Programme, an initiative of four regional states: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, supported by the UNHCR, other international organizations and major donor countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs underlines in particular that the UNHCR rules require that the countries concerned must be consulted prior to the cessation of the refugee status. These UNHCR regulations further require that the burden of proof that the situation in the country of refugee origin has been fundamentally, steadily and durably changed, lies with the receiving state.

The UNHCR has not only turned a deaf ear to its own regulations but, as a humanitarian agency, it has neglected the true situation of refugees from Croatia. This unilateral decision is unprecedented in the UNHCR practice to date, since decisions on such serious issues were always based on the consensus of the states concerned.

The Republic of Serbia will not accept the UNHCR recommendation and will continue fully to protect and assist all refugees in its territory, while at the same time making its maximum contribution to finding durable and sustainable solutions regarding their status.

Therefore, all the consequences of the decision aimed at status cessation for refugees from Croatia will be fully borne by the UNHCR.