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Denmark Preparing To Send Bosnian Refugees Home

COPENHAGEN, March 20 (RFE/RL) - Reports in Copenhagen say Denmark's government is preparing to repatriate Bosnian refugees as soon as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) declares the situation in Bosnia safe.

Within a short time, all 17,000 refugees from Bosnia will receive a letter from the Interior Ministry in Copenhagen telling them that they can be forcefully repatriated. A copy of the letter has been leaked to the press.

A major newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, reported Sunday that the government actually will cancel the temporary residence permits of only about 7,000 of the refugees. This includes asylum seekers whose cases are pending.

According to Danish law, residence permits may be withdrawn only from people who have been in the country for fewer than three years. After three years of uninterrupted residence, Denmark normally would grant permanent status in the country.

The Danish government will offer resettlement grants to long-term refugees who volunteer to return. According to the leaked document, this will amount to the equivalent of 2,600 U.S. dollars per adult, and about 900 dollars per minor.

Denmark's Interior Minister Birte Weiss has said the government is prepared to repatriate Bosnian refugees as soon as the UNHCR declares the situation in Bosnia safe. Weiss said that if Germany, as expected, goes ahead with deporting Bosnian refugees in the summer, it will be a sign that Denmark can follow suit. She added, the final decision would be based on administrative rather than political considerations.

In Germany, authorities have announced a detailed plan to repatriate the refugees in groups. The first wave of repatriates will comprise single persons, people with families in Bosnia and refugee families with no children.