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Another German Province Delays Refugee Repatriation

  • Roland Eggleston

Munich, June 13 (RFE/RL) -- The German province of Bavaria has agreed to delay until October the forced repatriation of Bosnian refugees. It planned to begin repatriation on July 1.

The Bavarian Interior Minister, Gunther Beckstein, told the provincial parliament he had visited several areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina last week and was persuaded that conditions were not satisfactory.

In Germany the individual provinces are responsible for deciding on the repatriation of the refugees in their territory. Last week another province, Northrhine-Westphalia, decided to delay repatriation until October 1. The federal Interior Minister Manfred Kanther has also said he supports a delay.

There are an estimated 320,000 refugees from the former Yugoslavia in Germany. According to official figures their upkeep costs the German government 3.5 thousand million marks (about 2.3 thousand million dollars). The official policy of the federal government is that the refugees should return home as soon as possible

The Bavarian Interior Minister told the provincial parliament the refugees were needed at home to help rebuild the country. He looked back at Germany's own experience immediately after the war when thousands of women were called into service to clear away the rubble of war-damaged buildings. They have passed into legend as the "rubble women".

The minister said: "in Bosnia there is a lot of war rubble, but no rubble-women".

He complained that many people in Bosnia appeared to believe that the West should be responsible for post-war reconstruction. He said that was unacceptable. The West could help, but the main responsibility lay with the Bosnians themselves.

The prime minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hasan Muratovic, has told the German political weekly, "Die Zeit" that it costs 10,000-20,000 German marks (about 6,500- 13,000 dollars) to provide housing for repatriated refugees.