Ombudsman: Kosovo must legalize Serbia’s displaced Albanians

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s ombudsman has urged the government to issue residence papers for ethnic Albanians who have been displaced from neighboring Serbia for “security, social or economic reasons.”

A report from the people’s advocate said Friday that since 2001, some 3,500 ethnic Albanians from Presevo, Medveda and Bujanovac in southern Serbia have come to Kosovo, but they have no legal status in Kosovo or rights to employment, education or other benefits.

They cannot get any documents from Serbia now because of a 2011 law in which authorities are able to wipe their names out of local registry logs.

Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic-Albanian former Serbian province, declared independence in 2008 from Serbia following a 1998-99 war. Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

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