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German Parliamentary Committee Seeks Delay In Returning Refugees

Munich, April 19 (RFE/RL) - The human rights committee of Germany's parliament has asked the government to delay the return of refugees to Bosnia because of unsatisfactory conditions there. Germany had planned to begin repatriating refugees July 1, starting with individuals and childless couples. The return of families was to begin in the summer of next year. About 320,000 refugees are officially registered in Germany. The human rights committee, which includes members of both government and opposition parties, suggests that the compulsory return of refugees be delayed for at least a year to allow conditions to improve in Bosnia. In its statement, the committee says the German Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the refugees, is insufficiently informed about conditions the refugees would face. It says it is inconceivable to return Muslim refugees to towns and villages in which Serbs and Croats are now in the majority. According to the committee's figures, more than 60 percent of the Bosnian refugees in Germany come from regions now included in the Republika Srpska, controlled by Bosnian Serbs.

The committee also doubts that there is sufficient housing for returning refugees. It says it does not want a situation in which camps and barracks have to be built to house returning refugees.

This month, a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had also said unemployment was a major problem in the post-war state.

The former European Union administrator in Mostar, Hans Koschnick, also has also called on the German government to delay the return of refugees because of continuing ethnic hostilities in some areas, and the housing and employment situation.