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Sweden Suspends Controversial Refugee Deportations

March 23, 1995

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Under fire from human rights groups and a member of the royal family, Swedish authorities on Thursday suspended deportations of Bosnian refugees to Croatia.

The government wants to expel 5,000 Bosnian Croats who entered Sweden with Croatian passports. Opponents said the refugees would face discrimination if returned home, and could be sent back to areas where there is fighting.

Hundreds of refugees have fled into hiding in homes and churches in Sweden since the deportations began a week ago.

A spokesman for the national prison commission said Thursday the expulsions were halted while a Swedish delegation toured Croatia.

In Zagreb, U.N. refugee spokesman Jan Bolling told the Swedish news agency TT that Sweden should wait ``a few months″ before sending people back into an uncertain situation in both Croatia and Bosnia.

Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson’s government insisted it had assurances from Croatia that the returnees would not face any threats, but even Sweden’s Princess Christina called the plan ``absurd.″

``Right now, it’s definitely not the right time to send these people back,″ she said Thursday. The princess is chairwoman of the Swedish Red Cross.

Sweden has taken in tens of thousands of Bosnian refugees in recent years, as well as many asylum-seekers, and the government has been under pressure to control the rising cost of supporting them.

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