UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Humanitarian Situation Report 81

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 22 Feb 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. Clashes between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and Serbian security forces during the period under review led to new displacement in Studencane and Ristane ( Southwest of Pristina in Suva Reka municipality ) and in several villages in Vucitrn municipality ( approximately 25 km Northwest of Pristina ). UNHCR estimates that some 9,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes in these two areas although some have since returned. The area between Pristina and Podujevo remains deserted by all its inhabitants.

Security

2. The murder of Albanian and Serbian civilians has continued, with bodies killed by gunshot wound found daily. More than 40 murders have occurred in the first three weeks of February 1999. The President of the Kosovo Temporary Council told UNHCR that he could no longer guarantee the safety of Serbs living in Kosovo. Consequently, UNHCR will continue to be active in the protection of minorities living in Kosovo in the post-Rambouillet environment. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) has maintained its presence throughout Kosovo with the exception of Leposavic north of Pristina where verifiers were driven out by Serb civilians and the Mayor.

Relief Distribution

3. During the period under review UNHCR led convoys carrying food and non-food items to thousands of displaced, host families and returnees in the municipalities of Klina, Orahovac, Kosovska Mitrovica, Srbica, Glogovac, Suva Reka and Obilic. Humanitarian agencies supplying relief items include UNHCR, WFP, Children's Aid Direct, Doctors of the World, Mercy Corps International and Mother Teresa Society.

Coordination

4. The first "Principals' Meeting" was held in Pristina on Friday 19 February. The meeting arose following ongoing discussions between UNHCR and OSCE KVM since November 1998 and is intended to facilitate coordination and cooperation on humanitarian issues at the highest level. Chaired by UNHCR the meeting also included representatives from OSCE/KVM ( Ambassador Walker ), the NGO Executive Committee ( International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps International ) and ICRC. OCHA acted as secretary to the meeting.

5. The agenda covered the security situation, the likely scenarios post Rambouillet and the need for strong coordination of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. After the conclusion of the Rambouillet talks UNHCR stated that it would continue its humanitarian programme, concentrating on returns and provision of necessary protection as well as delivery of relief until alternative arrangements were in place. UNHCR would not directly engage in reconstruction, but would take an active role in coordination of reconstruction activities and the recently-completed UNHCR-sponsored shelter survey could be used as a reference document for donors and implementing bodies involved in reconstruction.

6. ICRC said that it would continue its traditional activities, seeking free access for humanitarian assistance, access to the detained, and the development of the local Red Cross. IRC and MCI said that NGOs would continue with their long-term programmes and welcomed the opportunity to be closely involved in coordination post-Rambouillet. NGOs were also given the chance to raise any other outstanding issues of concern. It was decided that the Principals' meetings should continue under the chairmanship of UNHCR with relevant agencies joining as they came on board.

Health

7. The second workshop on basic epidemiology in emergencies organised by WHO was completed on 23 February 1999. Participants were eight medical doctors from Mother Teresa medical branch and eight medical doctors from the Institute of Public Health (IPH) Pristina and its branches in other parts of Kosovo. The aim of the second workshop was to empower local doctors to use EpiInfo6 software package especially designed for surveillance of infectious diseases.

Food Aid Programme related to the Kosovo crisis

8. Although the transport of food from the Montenegrin port of Bar to Kosovo was suspended as of 19 February for WFP and NGOs, WFP food distributions in Kosovo continued with supplies already warehoused in Kosovo. On 22 February two convoys departed for Srbica and Obilic carrying rations for over 4,000 displaced and war-affected persons for a one month period. Further convoys are planned for Kosovska Mitrovica and Lipljan during the coming week.

9. February is the first month that WFP has been able to implement monthly distributions in Kosovo. Previously, distributions had been of an ad hoc nature due to the changing security situation and continual population movements. During the month of February 2, 800 MT of food aid is to be delivered to 47 delivery points to provide a one-month ration for 200,000 beneficiaries. As sugar is now available, a full food basket of 12 kg of wheat flour, 1 kg of oil, 1 kg of pulses and 1 kg of sugar will be distributed. However, due to staff relocations by UN agencies and NGOs these plans will be delayed until the conclusion of the Rambouillet talks.

10. Food continues to be dispatched to Montenegro. The February distribution to 32,162 IDPs in Montenegro is ongoing and due to be concluded by 26 February.

11. Food aid contingency stocks are reasonably healthy. In Kosovo, WFP has 44 MT of high protein biscuits for distribution as immediate emergency rations to populations on the move. Basic dry rations are available for approximately 100,000 people in Kosovo. In addition, WFP has over 5,000 MT of food cleared in Bar which can be transported to Kosovo and / or Montenegro at a rate of 1,000 MT a week. ICRC has prepared 98,000 relief parcels as contingency stocks in Montenegro. In Albania, WFP has 360,000 individual rations of high protein biscuits available for immediate assistance. The Red Cross has 20,000 food parcels and WFP has large stocks of basic commodities for further assistance.

MONTENEGRO

12. The registration of displaced continues and should be completed in early April. As of 17 February, 3 weeks into the process, a total of 4,374 persons have been issued new cards from the five locations of Podgorica, Ulcinj, Plav, Rozaje and Bijelo Polje.

13. The Joint Education Mission involving representatives from UNHCR, UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict visited displaced school sites in Podgorica on 18 February and Ulcinj on 19 February 1999. At some locations, education for displaced children was already underway. The Minister of Education met with the school Directors on 18 February to explain the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding and instructed them to inform how many classrooms will be needed, what renovations are required, and the estimated number of children who will attend. UNHCR field staff will liaise with the school directors on the necessary renovations.

14. UNICEF is coordinating with NGOs on the dispatch of material assistance to schools for all age groups. 400 individual school kits have already been distributed to the children in Gusinje and Plav and another 1,600 school kits will be transferred from UNICEF, Pristina to complete the distribution in Montenegro. Textbooks will be distributed through the Ministry of Education. UNICEF will be responsible for training teachers in psychosocial interventions and in modern teaching methodology. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education a meeting is scheduled for the first week of March to coordinate the programmes of all NGOs involved in pre-school / kindergarten programmes.

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

15. The United Nations Secretary-General has recommended an extension of the mandate of the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for another six months until 31 August, 1999. UNPREDEP troops monitor strategic locations and sensitive points along the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's borders with Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The peacekeeping mission is also involved in a wide range of programmes to promote good governance, the rule of law and social stability.

16. In a report to the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General says that the potentially serious repercussions of the violence in Kosovo on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's external and internal security cannot be ignored, given the large proportion of ethnic Albanians in the country. The Secretary-General notes that UNPREDEP has helped prevent spillover of conflicts in the region and defuse potential tensions. It also had a stabilizing effect by helping to promote dialogue among various political forces and ethnic communities in the country.

17. Citing arguments by the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the mandate extension, the report notes that there is concern at increased tensions on the Albanian-Yugoslav border, the unstable situation in Albania and the lack of progress in the demarcation of the country's border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The UN mission has 1,050 troops, 35 military observers and 26 civilian police, supported by 203 local and international civilian staff. The UN Security Council will discuss the Secretary-General's report on 23 February.

ALBANIA

18. The Government Office for Refugees finished registering refugees from Kosovo in mid-February with the support of UNHCR. Preliminary findings indicate a caseload of 17,000 - 18,000 refugees, 5,000 - 6,000 less than the estimated pre-registration caseload of 23,000. According to UNHCR the Office for Refugees is currently analysing the profile of the refugees to determine factors such as their age, sex, location, area of origin, health status and level of education.

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