UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Humanitarian Situation Report 79

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 10 Feb 1999
3 February 1999 - 9 February 1999
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

Population Movements

1. UNHCR estimates hat the overall level of displacement within Kosovo has remained unchanged during the period under review at 210,000 people as renewed displacement in some areas has been offset by an increased rate of return in others. In Nevoljane, a mixed village in Vucitrn municipality, both Serbian and Albanian families have fled for security reasons. In the Western border town of Junik, on the other hand, some 1,500 displaced have reportedly returned.

Relief Distribution

2. Interagency convoys led by UNHCR continued to deliver food and non-food items during the period under review to some 50,000 displaced, returnees and host families in the municipalities of Srbica, Stimlje, Djakovica, Mitrovica, Glogovac, Orahovac and Decane. Participating agencies include UNHCR, WFP, Catholic Relief Services, Children's Aid Direct and Mother Theresa Society.

3. The delivery of humanitarian relief continues to be a challenging exercise. On 4 February for a period of five hours a UNHCR-led convoy was stopped and detained by an angry and hostile Serb crowd of about 100 people, unarmed, in the village of Gornje Nerodimlje in Urosevac municipality. The Serbs were seeking action for the return of missing family members, believed to be abducted by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). After tense negotiation and a thorough search of the trucks by the police in the presence of the villagers the convoy was released. It returned to Pristina with personnel unharmed and load intact. A similar incident occurred near Suva Reka with armed civilians on 10 February. The convoy turned back unsearched.

4. In January 1999 the ICRC delivered relief supplies to more than 65,000 beneficiaries through the Mother Theresa Society and the Yugoslav Red Cross. The supplies consisted of some 500 MT of food as well as 32,000 blankets and other non-food items such as warm clothes and boots. Distribution of winter stoves to 4,000 most vulnerable families is underway. ICRC has also given supplies to the Yugoslav Red Cross to meet the needs of some 5,000 beneficiaries outside Kosovo.

Security

5. Although there were no major clashes between Security forces and the KLA during the period under review violence continued, particularly in urban areas. On 5 February both an Albanian and a Serbian bar were attacked in Pristina. No casualties were reported. On 6 February a bomb detonated in a small shop in Pristina resulting in the death of 3 people. In view of such incidents humanitarian personnel have been advised to remain indoors during the evenings. Isolated incidents of murder continued throughout the period with victims shot dead found in several municipalities including Istok, Kosovska Mitrovica, Decane and Djakovica.

The Search for Peace

6. From 23-29 January the United Nations Liaison Office (UNLO) helped to facilitate a six-day seminar in Northern Ireland to bring together youth representatives from Serbian and Kosovo Albanian political parties. The seminar was organised by Pax Christi and sponsored by the British and Belgian Governments. The programme addressed topics such as disarmament, trauma counselling and community relations and included meetings with local politicians and academics. At the end of the meeting participants expressed their appreciation for the event and made a commitment to continue the process.

Detention activities / Missing persons

7. In October 1998 the authorities in Belgrade accepted the system of notification of detainees and officially informed ICRC of the detention of over 800 people. From October 1998 until 9 February 1999 ICRC has visited some 620 people in 16 different locations, a large number of whom are still under investigation. The ICRC has been unable to reach a written agreement with the FRY authorities, which would provide the ICRC with full notification of and access to all those detained by the State for reasons of national security.

8. The fate of some 140 people reportedly held by the KLA or otherwise unaccounted for in areas under its control remains unknown. ICRC has continued to follow up on all cases by reminding KLA representatives of the need to clarify their fate. ICRC has also followed up with the Serbian authorities on the cases of several Albanians who have reportedly disappeared.

Child Rights

9. There are still 8 primary schools and 3 secondary schools in Kosovo which are occupied by armed forces. 10 schools in the municipalities of Djakovica, Decane, Orahovac and Klina are occupied by Serbian security forces and 1 school in Glogovac municipality is occupied by the KLA. In mid-January UNICEF and SCF (UK) sent a joint letter to OSCE KVM requesting assistance in negotiating the release of these schools from the armed groups. No reply has been received to date.

Food Aid Programme related to Kosovo

10. As at 7 February WFP had 1,000 MT wheat grain ( currently being milled in Kosovo Polje ), 200 MT wheat flour, 60 MT oil, 100 MT pulses and 45 MT high protein biscuits in Kosovo. WFP is currently despatching food from Bar to Kosovo and Montenegro at the rate of 400-500 MT per day. WFP has employed an international convoy leader to assist in the delivery of WFP and NGO food into Kosovo.

11. During January 1999, WFP distributed 165 MT of wheat flour, 3.5 MT of pulses, 1.5 MT of oil and 2.2 MT of high protein biscuits. This represents a ration for approximately 13,750 individuals. In addition, WFP also delivered 100 MT to 8,000 refugees in Kosovo in January. WFP will begin distribution of monthly rations in Kosovo to an estimated caseload of 166,200 in February 1999.

Health

12. Data collected by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) on vaccination coverage in Kosovo in 1998 has now been analysed by WHO ( See point 17, Update 78). The analysis compared coverage for the following Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) antigens: polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertusis, measles, mumps, rubella. The analysis indicated that in 1998 the level of coverage for all antigens for all age groups eligible for vaccination was below 85 % which represents a significant decrease on the level of vaccination coverage in 1997. In spite of the efforts of medical agencies to fill the gap there were still unavoidable interruptions in immunisation activities for security reasons. At the health meeting on 4 January strategies for a new round of vaccinations were discussed. The municipality of Glogovac was identified as an area in particular need of attention.

Water and Sanitation

13. The ICRC has installed water tanks / bladders in order to deliver water to the hospital and school in Srbica, thereby serving a total of approximately 15,000 beneficiaries. In Klina municipality the cleaning of 35 contaminated wells was completed in January 1999. Construction of water/sanitation facilities in the Albanian Women's League in Pristina has also begun.

MONTENEGRO

14. The registration of the Kosovo displaced in Montenegro by the Montenegrin Commissioner for Displaced Persons (MCDP) continues at the rate of 400 persons registered per day. In Ulcinj most of the displaced live in private accommodation, either rented or hosted by families. It is estimated that some 6,000 are in the municipality, although thousands more have passed through en route to other destinations outside the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

15. According to UNHCR approximately 80 displaced from Kosovo have arrived in Rozaje since the beginning of 1999 and 80 in Plav since mid-December 1998. They are originally from Pristina and from the municipalities of Pec, Decane, Djakovica and Podujevo. Many of the new influx had returned to Kosovo from Montenegro in the last quarter of 1998 but had fled from their homes once more due to deteriorating security. New arrivals report that many others seeking refuge in Montenegro were turned back by Montenegrin border officials requiring evidence of a prior connection with Montenegro such as registration cards issued by the MCDP or proof of official employment. New arrivals report that such requirements are less stringently applied for women and children.

16. Efforts are underway to improve the plight of approximately 1,000 displaced Roma living in Podgorica and, to a lesser extent, in Niksic. Stoves provided by UNHCR have been distributed to those in the settlement in Podgorica as well as non-food items and firewood by the Italian Consortium for Solidarity (ICS) with the assistance of Caritas. Preparations for distribution of shelter material provided by GTZ and Swiss Disaster Relief (SDR) has been finalised. Additional shelter material has been ordered from Belgrade for SDR's distribution in Rozaje and Plav .

ALBANIA

17. UNHCR estimates that there are currently 18,500 refugees from Kosovo in Albania, 3,500 less than the former estimate of 22,000. The Government's re-registration of Kosovo refugees will provide more accurate figures when completed. Food distribution for the month of February has begun. WFP will provide food for some 10,000 refugees, Albanian Red Cross for some 7,000 and the Islamic Coordination Council will cover the needs of the remainder of the caseload. In the event of a sudden influx of refugees into Albania WFP has 360,000 rations of high protein biscuits and the Albanian Red Cross have 20,000 food parcels.

18. Following a mission by the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs to Albania in June 1997 a pilot project has been proposed to collect weapons from the civilian population in the district of Gramsh, which is some 50 km South-east of Tirana. The project, which has been developed in collaboration with UNDP, involves an offer of development incentives in return for the voluntary surrender of weapons. Priority has been given to the establishment of telecommunications and basic infrastructure, including road building.

19. It is estimated that 517,000 weapons were stolen from Albania during the civil unrest in 1997. 40,000 - 50,000 weapons were taken from military depots in the district of Gramsh and it is believed that 10,000 now remain in this area. The project in Gramsh, which was formally launched on 27 January, collected 540 weapons and 18 MT of ammunition during its first week of operations. A high level of interest was expressed by Member States in the project at a meeting held in New York on 29 January.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

20. UNHCR estimates that 10,000 refugees from Kosovo have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina since January 1998. Approximately 8,500 are living in private accommodation and some 1,500 are in collective centres. The majority of those living in both private and collective accommodation are in the Sarajevo canton. The Government continues to make efforts to move 492 refugees who remain in the Coca Cola factory in Hadzici on the outskirts of Sarajevo to alternative accommodation.

21. The assistance programme is summarised as follows:

  • Food : refugees in collective centres receive cooked food or in-kind food; those in private accommodation are eligible for basic WFP rations if registered with authorities.
  • Hygienic items: distributed by the Bosnian Red Cross in collaboration with the IFRC to all refugees in collective accommodation on a monthly basis.
  • Non-food items : distributed on a needs only basis to refugees in collective accommodation.
  • Primary health care : provided to refugees in camps but refugees in private accommodation have difficulty gaining access to healthcare.
  • Education: some children in private accommodation known to attend schools but no statistics available.
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