ZAGREB, Croatia — The Croatian government announced Sunday that it was stripping 100,000 Bosnians of refugee status and would send them back to their homes in areas "liberated" from the Bosnian Serbs in the past two weeks.
Adalbert Rebic, head of the government's refugee department, told Croatian Radio that the measure had been agreed to by Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina's mainly Muslim government.
"With the loss of refugee status, they can no longer exercise the rights linked with refugee status in Croatia," he said. "First of all, it means the return of all these people to their homes or to other empty houses in cases where their own houses have been destroyed."
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Zagreb had no immediate comment on the Croatian decision. The U.N. refugee agency criticized Croatia last week for sending newly arrived Bosnian Croats and Muslims expelled by the Serbs from northern Bosnia straight to "liberated" areas of that republic.
The agency said the move contravened the Geneva Convention on refugees by sending people back to areas that might be unsafe, and the agency said it believed that many of the refugees did not want to go back.
An official at the Croatian Department for Refugees and Displaced Persons denied both assertions.