Refugees: Balkan Muslim

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People who have migrated and relocated from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia, and other Balkan countries.

The Balkansthe area including parts of Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Sloveniahave been home to nations whose boundaries have been drawn and redrawn since Hellenistic times. The Balkans have been the site of significant and continued upheaval at least since the Ottoman conquest during the fourteenth century, which caused mass migrations of Muslims. As a result of the RussianOttoman War of 18771878, Muslims were forced from conquered areas in Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Serbia. Later, the Balkan allies either exiled or caused the deaths of a majority of the Muslims from territories they conquered during the Balkan War of 19121913. Other Balkan Muslims became refugees in regions taken by Greece after World War I. Some 400,000 refugees came to Turkey during the Greco-Turkish population exchange of the 1920s. The collapse of the Soviet Union prompted several "breakaway" republics in southeastern Europe and sparked or reignited varied political, cultural, and religious clashes. The 1990s proved to be a difficult time, especially with the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Roughly 800,000 Muslims left Bosnia after it declared independence from Yugoslavia and conflict with Serbia escalated in 1991. Significant numbers of Bosnian Muslims (around 50,000 at least) fled to Croatia, a predominantly Christian country. Continued fighting between Serbian government forces (Christian, led by Slobodan Milosevic) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (Muslim, generally ethnic Albanian) in the predominantly Muslim republic of Kosovo prompted a continued refugee situation as well, especially when fighting escalated in 1998. Despite ongoing international mediation, the Balkan Muslim refugee crisis is far from resolved.

see also russianottoman wars.


Crampton, R. J. The Balkans Since the Second World War. New York: Longman; London: Pearson, 2002.

Hupchick, Dennis P. The Balkans: From Constantinople to Communism. New York and Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave, 2002.

justin mccarthy
updated by noah butler