Save the Children Fund: Kosovo Emergency Bulletin Sixteen
SC (US) has reopened offices in Pristina and Prizren and made reconnaissance trips to Djakovica, Decan and Pec
UNHCR has assigned SCF the provision of primary health care in Decan and Djakovica municipalities; assessments are currently under way
Current programmes for refugees in Macedonia and Albania are being reviewed as the number of refugees decreases rapidly
All staff previously working with SCF in Kosovo are now accounted for
All Serbian military and police forces have now pulled out of Kosovo. The peacekeeping forces inside Kosovo have reached agreement with the Kosovo Liberation Army to disarm within 90 days. Security remains a serious concern. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that children are being killed by landmines and unexploded ordinance. Drive-by shootings and sniper fire are also reported.
As of 25 June, an estimated 300,000 refugees had returned to Kosovo. The majority of these refugees are returning from Albania, with the result that most of the refugee camps in Kukes have now been closed. Refugee camps in southern Albania in Macedonia are also closing.
Some 70,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo for Montenegro and Serbia proper. Inside Serbia, preliminary figures indicate that 249 kindergartens, 270 primary and secondary schools and 16 hospitals were damaged in the NATO bombing.
Save the Children Fund's Response
A Save the Children Alliance office and warehouse facilities have been established in Prizren and SCF's office in Pristina has now re-opened. SCF has been asked by UNHCR to provide primary health care in Decan and Djakovica as well as in Pec and Prizren. SCF will also distribute essential family supplies.
The family tracing programme which was successful in the refugee camps is now being implemented in Prizren and Pristina, with the help of satellite phones. In one day alone 195 calls were made from Prizren helping people re-establish or maintain communication with family members.
Discussions are now taking place with designated authorities and de-mining organisations in SCF's assigned municipalities to see what practical steps can be taken to create safe areas, such as schools, to allow children to resume structured activities. One school and one football pitch in Djakova have already been de-mined.
An estimated 116,000 refugees from Macedonia have returned to Kosovo leaving camps very depopulated. Several camps have closed completely and remaining refugees re-located to those that remain. As demand decreases, SCF play tents are being dismantled.
SCF's work in the host community of Gostivar continues; this includes pre-school and youth programmes for refugees and children of host families, and the distribution of health equipment to local partner organisations.
Family tracing has become difficult as people are now moving very rapidly. To help prevent separation on the return journey, SCF is distributing written material on the prevention of separation and working with CARE in five camps to try and make sure all children under 6 years have identification bracelets.
As the number of refugees decreases camps are being closed down. A new Director arrived on 2nd June and is assessing and establishing SCF's longer-term programme work.
The programme office in Podgorica continues to support material assistance to Internally Displaces Persons (IDPs). Some 8,100 IDPs have reportedly returned to Kosovo, leaving 62,000 in Montenegro.
The Montenegro Office is now in regular contact with the Belgrade Programme office. We are exploring how Belgrade staff can provide technical advice and support for the Montenegro programme's planned disability and fostering work.
SCF programmes on especially vulnerable children will be expanded to meet the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) from Kosovo and Bosnia. Existing programmes geared towards disabled children and children in institutionalised care will also continue. On June 29th SCF will open a toy library for disabled and other children. The library is staffed by parents and professionals, with material support and training from SCF.
Famila, SCF's partner organisation in Belgrade, is distributing essential supplies to 1,000 children living in foster families. Familia also runs a telephone hotline that offers counselling and support for foster families.
Save the Children UK in the Balkans
Save the Children Fund has been operational in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since 1993. We also have offices in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia and a joint Alliance office in Tirana, Albania. The Central European Regional Office is located in Budapest, Hungary.
Sources: UNHCR, SCF regional office and field reports, Reuters.
For further information, see Kosovo Emergency Bulletins of: 17/6/99, 10/6/99, 4/6/99, 27/5/99, 17/5/99, 7/5/99, 29/4/99, 23/4/99, 14/4/99, 6/4/99, 29/3/99, 27/1/99, 18/8/98, 26/6/98 and 20/3/98. See also, "SCF's Position on the Current Humanitarian Crisis in the Balkans".