UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Humanitarian Situation Report 75

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 24 Dec 1998
This report has been compiled by OCHA with support from UNHCR and with inputs from UN Agencies and other humanitarian organisations in former Yugoslavia and Albania
KOSOVO

United Nations Consolidated Interagency Appeal

1. On 17 December the United Nations launched the Consolidated Interagency Appeal for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. The Appeal covers the period January - December 1999. Programmes included in the Appeal are divided into two distinct but related categories: transitional programmes which address needs following the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace ( Dayton Agreement) and more emergency-orientated programmes which focus on humanitarian needs in Kosovo. Projects included in the Appeal are divided into five different sectors: Human Rights, Protection and Promotion of Solutions; Food; Health, Education and Community Services; Relief and Rehabilitation; and Multi-sectoral Assistance and Programme support.

2. The Appeal seeks a total of US $ 359.4 million, US $ 104 million of which is earmarked for programmes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). UNHCR is the largest appealing agency for FRY seeking US $ 60.5 million. Almost two thirds of the amount requested by UNHCR for FRY will be used to assist over 500,000 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

3. Within the FRY, it is estimated that 460,000 persons affected by the crisis in Kosovo will require assistance in the first six months of 1999. Of these, 400,000, including displaced, returnees and host families, are in Kosovo, 20,000 in other parts of Serbia and 40,000 in Montenegro. For planning purposes it is assumed that 100,000 persons will require direct support in the second half of 1999. For the longer term, developmental support and activities aimed at improving the economic conditions of the country are required.

4. For countries within the region affected by an influx of Kosovo refugees, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the 1999 planning scenario involves the provision of continued protection and assistance to meet the needs of existing caseloads until spring when programmes will be reviewed. Should conditions allow earlier voluntary repatriation, the resources foreseen for countries of asylum would be redeployed to assist the returnees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees visit to the FRY

5. From 20-22 December the UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The High Commissioner travelled to Kosovo with the principal purpose of establishing a link with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Kosovo Verification Mission (OSCE/KVM), which is charged with the responsibility of verifying the cease-fire on the ground, seeking to ensure security for all citizens and promoting conditions for a political settlement. UNHCR is charged with the responsibility of lead role for the protection and assistance of refugees and displaced within and from Kosovo.

6. The High Commissioner met a number of key Government and diplomatic officials, including President Milosevic and the Head of the OSCE/KVM mission, Ambassador Walker. During the course of her visit the High Commissioner stressed the strong and continuous support of UNHCR to more than 500,000 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and underlined her commitment to maintaining UNHCR's active search for solutions and financial support to the refugees. She welcomed the ceasefire and the successful implementation of a major humanitarian assistance programme in Kosovo, which ensured that a humanitarian catastrophe had been averted, and permitted all displaced to reach proper shelter. The fact that some 100,000 of the former displaced were back in their home villages/towns was a source of great satisfaction. However, she noted that many houses had been destroyed and remained empty and that 175,000 - 200,000 people remained displaced within Kosovo even though they had adequate shelter.

Human Rights

7. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that between 1,500 and 2,000 Kosovo Albanians have been detained since the Holbrooke/ Milosevic Agreement of 13 October 1998. During her recent visit to FRY the UN High Commissioner for Refugees deplored these arrests and the fact that the ICRC has no access during the period up to trial of detainees. She also deplored the abduction of the estimated 150 civilians by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and strongly denounced the terrible murders which had taken place during the past week in Pec, Kosovo Polje and Podujevo.

Relief Distribution

8. During the period under review UNHCR and WFP continued to lead relief convoys delivering food and non-food items to more than 200,000 displaced, host families and returnees. Destinations include villages in the municipalities of Orahovac, Djakovica, Srbica, Glogovac, Pec, Klina and Vucitrn. Relief items were supplied by UNHCR, WFP, Mercy Corps International, Catholic Relief Services, Children's Aid Direct, Norwegian Church Aid and Doctors of the World.

9. WFP and NGO food aid distributions have started in Kosovo after a two-week lull waiting for the arrival of food from the Montenegrin port of Bar. WFP and CRS plan to deliver 90 MT of wheat flour and 12,000 Doctors of the World individual food parcels per week for the immediate future to meet the needs of approximately 30,000 beneficiaries. UNHCR and WFP are now anxious that further delays in food delivery will occur, following a major landslide in Montengro, blocking the main road from that Republic to Serbia. The roads via Rozaje and Plav are also blocked due to heavy snowfall and extremely low temperatures.

Security

10. On 14 December two major incidents set back the search for peace in Kosovo. On the western border, security forces killed at least 36 armed Albanians, part of a group of some 140, while they were attempting to cross into the Serbian province from Albania before dawn. Later in the evening in Kosovo's second major town of Pec, masked men sprayed gunfire on the Panda Cafe, killing six Serbian teenagers as they played pool. These two events were the most severe since the cease-fire came into effect two months ago. In another incident, police found the body of the deputy mayor of Kosovo Polje on 18 December near Pristina airport. The official was kidnapped from his home the previous night. On 21 December a policeman was shot dead in Podujevo. During the past week protests have been held in Kosovo's major towns against abductions attributed to the KLA. On 18 December the head of the OSCE/KVM met families of Serbian kidnapping victims in an attempt to defuse tension in Kosovo. Meanwhile, every effort to secure the release of the abducted, or news of their fate, continues.

11. Threats to the security of humanitarian personnel are also increasing. On 11 December Serbian civilians, protesting the kidnapping of two Serbians in July, briefly detained three aid workers, including an international staff member of Cap Anamur, the German NGO. It was the first time an expatriate worker had been held by Serbians while on an aid mission in Kosovo. The aid workers were on their way to distribute relief aid at Jezerce village when they were stopped and held by Serbians at Nerodimlje village just outside Urosevac. UNHCR alerted representatives of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, who intervened to secure the release of the three within a few hours.

Coordination

12. On 16 December UNHCR chaired a coordination meeting in Pristina on behalf of the relief and donor community to facilitate planning and to identify areas to be targeted for assistance during 1999. In presentations delivered by representatives from UN agencies, the UN Secretariat, donors and the OSCE several target areas emerged, including human rights, protection, women and children and local capacity building.

Shelter

13. In a meeting with UNHCR on 17 December the President of the Temporary Executive Council of Kosovo, Mr Andjelkovic, said that the Government had formed a multi-ethnic task force to help rebuild houses destroyed during the eight-month conflict in Kosovo. Mr Andjelkovic said the Government would provide building materials to villages identified by UNHCR to be in need of assistance. In an earlier meeting the humanitarian aid coordinator of the Temporary Executive Council of Kosovo said that the Government was providing building materials and other relief aid to more than 100 distribution points through 17 Humanitarian Centres.

Education

14. Kosovo Children's Group, a coalition of local NGOs who work on children's issues, met in Belgrade on 12 December to discuss issues relating to children's access to education as some school premises in Kosovo are occupied by armed groups. The meeting was chaired by Save the Children Fund (UK) and UNICEF, UN Liaison Office and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights attended as observers. The Group is preparing a joint Appeal calling for all children to be given access to school, for landmines to be cleared and for children's safety to be ensured.

Health

15. Immunisation activities continue in villages in the vicinity of Malisevo and Glogovac. During the period under review UNICEF and Medecins du Monde assisted the vaccination team from Suva Reka municipality in the provision of services to the villages of Tumicina, Belanica, Guncat, Senik, Ladrovac, Ladrovic, Banja, and Kravoserija.

16. Data collection for the UNICEF/ACF/MCI joint nutrition survey started on 14 December and will be completed by 23 December. Other humanitarian agencies including WFP, International Medical Corps and Medecins du Monde are assisting through the provision of logistical support. The preliminary results of the survey are expected by early January.

17. From 9 to 15 December the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) visited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to determine the immediate reproductive health needs of the displaced population in Kosovo. After extensive consultation with FRY authorities, UN agencies and NGOs, UNFPA concluded that reproductive health services in Kosovo were poor and made four recommendations which UNFPA would be willing to support:

a) MSF should be responsible for coordinating the implementation of a reproductive health component into the primary health care system in its area of operations

b) WHO should be responsible for training 80 Kosovo medical staff ( both Albanian and Serb) in Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) management

c) The activities of the Centre for the Protection of Women and Children (CPWC), a local NGO specialising in reproductive health workshops, should be supported to improve public awareness

d) The capacity of three hospitals ( Pristina, Djakovica and Mitrovica ) to manage obstetric complications should be strengthened through the supply of equipment and drugs. The distribution will be managed by WHO.

18. From 11 -16 December a WHO team conducted an assessment of the state of health facilities in Kosovo. The team visited health facilities in Klina, Djakovica, Kijevo, Stimlje, Suva Reka, Pec, Decane, Orahovac, Malisevo, Glogovac, Srbica and Lausa. In most of the health institutions visited the rooves and windows needed to be repaired, sewage tanks rehabilitated and piped water systems installed. Much of the medical equipment also needed to be replaced. The rehabilitation of health clinics and the collection of health data were key items on the agenda of the 16 December regional health coordination meeting, which was chaired by WHO.

Water and Sanitation

19. Recent reports from the Institute of Public Health in Pristina and medical and water and sanitation agencies indicate a significant increase in the incidence of Hepatitis A in Kosovo. Analysis conducted by WHO suggests that the most probable vehicle for transmission is water from contaminated wells, which is often used untreated by the displaced.

20. The influx of displaced into urban areas is placing enormous pressure on water systems which were already in poor repair due to lack of maintenance. This has resulted in a shortage of water, a poor level of hygiene and an increased incidence of scabies and lice, all of which are having a negative impact on the health of the inhabitants. Swiss Disaster Relief and ICRC are implementing programmes to try to prevent further deterioration of the situation.

21. At the health coordination meeting at the beginning of December Oxfam outlined the activities of water and sanitation agencies which also include MSF, International Rescue Committee, ICRC and Swiss Disaster Relief. During the meeting it was agreed that coordination and information exchange between health agencies and water and sanitation agencies would be improved.

MONTENEGRO

22. On 11 December a landslide near Kolasin in the North of Montenegro caused severe damage to the main road rendering it unusable. The Automobile Club of Yugoslavia told UNHCR that it could take several months to make the necessary repairs. If initial reports are correct, the implications are serious as this route is used to transport food and other relief items from Bar, the main port of entry in Montenegro, to Kosovo, Northern Montenegro and, to a lesser extent, other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The one alternative route is not a serious option as it is a narrow mountain road which is frequently blocked by snow. Humanitarian agencies are currently investigating other options such as the use of the railway or local purchase to ensure that there is no interruption in the supply of humanitarian items to Kosovo and Northern Montenegro.

23. The UNHCR-funded registration of displaced in Montenegro is due to start shortly. In the meantime the December food distribution is underway for 34,385 displaced beneficiaries. The displaced receive a ration of 12 kg flour, 1 kg pasta, 1 litre of oil, salt and yeast. The International Orthodox Christian Church and Samariter Arbeitshilfer are also distributing food parcels. UNHCR reports that the refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have received no food since October 1998. According to WFP 7,000 MT wheat flour is awaiting customs and sanitary clearance in Bar and distributions to refugees are scheduled to begin in January 1999.

24. The final draft of the Memorandum of Understanding on the provision of education to displaced children from Kosovo has been submitted by UNHCR and UNICEF to the Government of Montenegro for signature. UNICEF reports that there are currently 1,600 children of school age in Montenegro. In meetings with school principals UNICEF and UNHCR have found practical solutions to ensure that children are able to attend school.

ALBANIA

25. According to UNHCR approximately 700 Kosovo refugees in the Bajram Curri area have now relocated to other parts of Albania. ( See point 21, Update 74 for background detail ). The majority have gone to Durres and Tirana to stay with relatives and 89 have relocated to collective accommodation provided in Velipolje. Some 300 refugees from Kosovo are still in Tropoje and Fierze in the North of Albania.

THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

26. As at 17 December 1998 the Macedonian Red Cross had registered 880 people affected by the crisis in Kosovo. 473 of those were reported by UNHCR to be in need of medical services. The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and the Macedonian Red Cross (MRC) have provided relief assistance to 303 persons. UNICEF will start the medical programme in the near future and CRS, in collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross, will distribute wood for fuel to vulnerable groups in Debar, Gostivar, Tetovo and Skopje.

For information, please contact:

Fernando del Mundo, UNHCR Pristina Tel: 381-38-321-09

David Carden (OCHA), UNHCR Belgrade
Tel: 381-11-344-2091
Fax: 381-11-344-2947
E-mail: carden@unhcr.ch