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Flats of Kosovo Serbs made ready for return

Prishtina, April 19 2004 - Kosovo Serbs whose city flats were torched in the riots of last month were offered the keys back to their renovated apartments on Thursday. Kosovo's Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi handed the keys of the renovated appartments to Charles Brayshaw of the United Nations Kosovo mission. "We are very very pleased that the government moved so quickly to commit itself to the rehabilitation of these structures so people can go back to their homes," said Brayshaw, who is deputy head of the UNMIK mission. "We need to repair the psychological damage also," he said.

About 120 Serbs were evacuated from the apartment block in the capital of Kosovo, Pristina, on the night of March 17.

The Kosovo Government is spending five million euros ($6.16 million) to rebuild 286 Serb houses set ablaze across Kosovo on two successive nights of rampage. "This is the first step and I hope that in two to three weeks we'll start the reconstruction of homes damaged in other municipalities throughout Kosovo," Rexhepi said.

The worst violence since the United Nations and NATO established control of Kosovo in 1999 killed 19 people and injured hundreds from both communities. Now, reconstruction is seen as a test of how genuine the spirit of reconciliation is among the majority of Albanians.

ECIKS / Reuters
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