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Croatian Serbs Caught In Limbo

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs fled Croatia during the war of 1991-95, but some 133,000 -- or about half -- have since returned. Under Western pressure, Croatia issued an amnesty for former Serbian soldiers and promised assistance to returning refugees to rebuild damaged properties. But 18 years after the war's end, many returnees are still living in barely functional, war-damaged homes. A handful of Serbs in the southern village of Strmica and the nearby former Serbian stronghold of Knin are continuing to wait for assistance to help them rebuild or relocate. (Photos by Antonio Bronic, Reuters) (11 PHOTOS)

Sava Knezevic, 65, walks through his house in the Croatian town of Knin, destroyed during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s.
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Sava Knezevic, 65, walks through his house in the Croatian town of Knin, destroyed during the Balkan wars of the early 1990s.

Knezevic poses in front of his damaged house in Knin.
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Knezevic poses in front of his damaged house in Knin.

Knezevic talks with a friend in the barn where he has lived for 17 years while waiting for aid to rebuild his old house.
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Knezevic talks with a friend in the barn where he has lived for 17 years while waiting for aid to rebuild his old house.

Knezevic sorts through discarded plastic bottles that he sells for a meager profit.
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Knezevic sorts through discarded plastic bottles that he sells for a meager profit.

Nikola Jankovic, 83, poses with his wife, Dragonja, in the village of Bobodol, near Knin. Many of the homes nearby have been destroyed by fire and abandoned.
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Nikola Jankovic, 83, poses with his wife, Dragonja, in the village of Bobodol, near Knin. Many of the homes nearby have been destroyed by fire and abandoned.

Drazen Matovic, 36, greets a friend on the steps of an abandoned primary school in the village of Strmica, which serves as a makeshift refugee camp for ethnic Serb returnees.
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Drazen Matovic, 36, greets a friend on the steps of an abandoned primary school in the village of Strmica, which serves as a makeshift refugee camp for ethnic Serb returnees.

Matovic brushes his teeth in the bathroom of the abandoned school where he lives. He and his family fled to Serbia in 1992 to escape the fighting in Croatia. He returned in 2005 and was sent to Strmica by the UN refugee agency.
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Matovic brushes his teeth in the bathroom of the abandoned school where he lives. He and his family fled to Serbia in 1992 to escape the fighting in Croatia. He returned in 2005 and was sent to Strmica by the UN refugee agency.

Matovic shows a copy of the Bible in his room.
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Matovic shows a copy of the Bible in his room.

Matovic eats a meal in his makeshift home.
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Matovic eats a meal in his makeshift home.

Volunteers bring free food to the inhabitants of the abandoned school.
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Volunteers bring free food to the inhabitants of the abandoned school.

Drazen Matovic receives a food donation in front of the school.
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Drazen Matovic receives a food donation in front of the school.

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