The Federal Refugee Office has announced plans to accelerate the return home of Kosovar refugees in Switzerland. The office wants compulsory repatriations to rise to 750 per month; 500 people were sent home in June.
Large numbers of Kosovars fled their homes during the 1990s after the Serbian authorities cracked down on alleged separatism, with the numbers increasing rapidly in 1998 and 1999 after a large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslav province.
A spokesman for the refugee office said the cantons had called on the authorities to increase the transport capacity for the repatriation programme. The aim is to return as many as possible of those who did not join a voluntary repatriation scheme, before the winter begins.
Around 14,500 people are expected to be subject to compulsory repatriation.
The refugee office will now organise repatriation flights from the military airbases at Payerne, in canton Vaud, and Ambri, in canton Ticino, in addition to the commercial airports at Zurich and Geneva.
The head of the office, Jean-Daniel Gerber, said a further 5,000 people were expected to return to Kosovo under the voluntary repatriation scheme before the end of next month. The scheme offers financial support to returning refugees.
swissinfo with agencies
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