UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Situation Report 59

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 01 Sep 1998
This report has been compiled by UNHCR with support from OCHA and with inputs from UN Agencies and other humanitarian organizations in FRY, FYROM and Albania
1. KOSOVO

1.1 Following attack at the village of Senik 5 km east of Malisevo on Thursday 27 August, UNHCR team visited the area on Friday and Saturday having been informed that some 15,000 people needed food urgently. As a result of the attack 17 people are believed to be dead and at least 47 wounded. On Saturday UNHCR lead a medical team that evacuated 13 seriously wounded civilians to Pristina hospital. ICRC workers reported they had no problems with the Serbian police while driving the wounded into the region's hospital but the wounded themselves had been afraid. At the nearby village of Guncat, 10 km east of Malisevo which originally had 1,500 residents the UNHCR team found over 10,000 IDPs from 35 villages in the area who appealed for food and medicines.

On Saturday 29 August UNHCR visited the woods at Kula some 15 km outside Pristina where an estimated 2000 people have been living in the woods for six weeks. UNHCR spoke to a group of 50 people who told them that they fled the villages of Mirena, Gornji and Donji Zabelj and Gornja Korotica. UNHCR appealed to the authorities to ensure a safe passage for them to Pristina but was refused and told that they should return to their villages.

On Saturday 29 August Kosovo Prefect Vejko Odalovic sent an open letter to the agencies working in Kosovo offering to facilitate the issuance of visas, entry of communications equipment and to ease the work of the aid organisations in Kosovo.

On Monday 31 August UNHCR met with the foreign ministry officials in Pristina to discuss the problems in convoy movements and inform them of reports that the police had prevented IDPs from returning form Montenegro to Kosovo. They were referred to the local chief of police who was unavailable. The agency requested access to Leskovcic (vicinity of Obilic) in view of the possible returns into the village. In closing the meeting the MOFA urged that agencies take a "balanced" approach in reporting from the field.

Following reports on large numbers of people forced to flee their homes in the municipality of Lipljan (north of Pristina) during heavy shelling in recent weeks UNHCR is investigating the situation in the villages of Sedlare and Magura. The municipality of Lipljan, inhabited by both Serbs and Albanians came under attack on 18 August. Prior to the attack on Sedlare an estimated 18,000 IDPs from Malisevo, Glogovac and Stimlje were accommodated there. Despite heavy destruction, people are returning to Sedlare, as no other shelter is available.

UNHCR visited a Serb family who fled the village of Jelovac, 10 km east of Klina who are living in the collective centre with refugees from Krajina. They were told that the village had been populated by 40 ethnic Albanian and 12 Serb households, but that in May the rebels torched all the Serb houses.

1.2 Convoys. UNHCR escorted a nine-truck multi-agency convoy to Kosovska Mitrovica and Vucitrn where there is an estimated 40,000 IDPs. The supplies from WFP, Doctors of the World, Catholic Relief and Mercy Corps International included 4,000 family food parcels, 98 tons of wheat flour, 2 tons of beans, 2 tons of oil, 100 packs of sanitary napkins. This was a third convoy to set out of Pristina in the week 24-30 August.

Today, 1 September, two convoys left Pristina. The UNHCR led convoy headed for Gornji Strelci in Pec carrying emergency relief supplies to an estimated 15,000 beneficiaries. The aid consists of : 3 trucks of family food parcels, 1 ton of beans, 54 tons of wheat flour, 1 ton of cooking oil, 20 boxes of hygienic napkins, 300 pairs of rubber boots, 50 stoves, 300 rolls of plastic sheeting, 300 boxes of high protein biscuits and sleeping bags. The agencies participating in the convoy are: CAD, DOW, HI, WFP and MCI. The WFP led nine-truck convoy including CAD, IRC, WFP and MCI will accompany relief supplies to Nisor southeast of Malisevo for an estimated 40,000 beneficiaries. The supplies consist of: 4 trucks of family food parcels, 1 ton of beans, 78 tons of wheat flour, 1 ton of cooking oil, 20 boxes of hygienic napkins, 50 stoves, 300 pairs of rubber boots, 30 rolls of plastic sheeting, 300 boxes of high protein biscuits and sleeping bags.

1.3 Situation in Klecka. On 29 August the Serbian police took reporters to view a lime pit where purportedly the remains of 22 Serbs executed by ethnic Albanian separatists were found. If the claims are true, this would amount to a horrific violation of human rights. Boxes of food aid (HDRs) from the USA and probably distributed by UNHCR found there have been widely reported in the local press. The food packs are distributed to needy displaced people when other food is unavailable and with the risks that some of it could fall in the hands of combatants.

Estimated Displacement Figures: (as at 24 August 1998)

Displacement within Kosovo 1/
170,000
Displacement into Montenegro 2/
35,000
Displacement into other parts of Serbia
20,000
Refugees in Bosnia Herzegovina 3/
4,700
Refugees into Albania 4/
14,000
Visitors into FYROM 5/
1,000
TOTAL
241,700


1/ Estimated figure based on information from various organisations in Kosovo.
2/ An average figure based on figures provided by the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior and the Montenegrin Red Cross, as shown in the next page.
3/ Includes 1937 registered asylum seekers
4/ Includes 7,000 registered in Tropoje District and an estimated 7,000 who have left for other areas.
5/ Figure provided by a local NGO, El Hilal.

1.4 Julia Taft US Assistant Secretary of State on a visit to Kosovo expressed horror at the destruction she saw. She said the international community had only six weeks to implement a crash program of humanitarian assistance in Kosovo if thousands of lives are to be saved. She pledged to ask the US State Department for "substantial" funding to avert the disaster and called for an immediate end of the conflict.

1.5 Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, ended her visit to Bosnia Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Croatia. Visiting Bijeljina she said Sunday that the US was pursuing a three-track Kosovo policy: of humanitarian aid to civilians, efforts to promote a political settlement and planning for possible military intervention. She reiterated the "need to solve the Kosovo issue diplomatically rather than militarily".

1.6 UNICEF assistance. UNICEF visited Senik, Guncat and Pagarusa in the municipality of Malisevo and Dobrdoljane in the muncipality of Suva Reka on Monday 31 August. Out of the 210 children checked in Senik and Guncat, some 80% had diarrehoea. There were 10 children with bronchopneumonia. Some of the children show signs of dehydration, albeit not so severe as to need infusions. The assistance distributed to Guncat and Senik on 31 August:

  • 16 boxes of diapers
  • 86 baby hygienic kits
  • 4 bundles of blankets
IDPs in Guncat were also provided with:
  • 25 collapsible water containers
  • 150 sets of underwear
1.7 WFP Food Aid Update.

WFP is continuing to send wheat flour, oil and pulses on convoys targetting the areas where IDPs have access to cooking facilities. HDRs are sent to many areas due to continuing movement of IDPs, most of whom have ho access to clean water.

2. MONTENEGRO

2.1 UNHCR estimates 3000 persons fled between 24 and 29 August. On 28 and 29 August UNHCR team monitored the arrival of IDPs to Rozaje including the villages of Bandzov, Kludjerski Laz and Bukelj. At the pace of 500 a day inhabitants of the 13 villages (Veliki Stupelj, Lutova, Pepici, Kosutani, Alagina Reka, Pecaj, Drelje, Kuciste, Dugaivo, Stakaj, Hadjaj, Boge and Malaj) in the area of Rugovska Klisura fled out of fear after the deployment of Serb forces in the village of Veliki Stupelj west of Pec. Neither fighting nor destruction of houses were reported by the new arrivals. All IDPs declare their willingness to return as soon as the security situation allows. Since 30 August the influx has stopped with only a few persons entering Montenegro over the mountains. IDPs praise the positive attitude of the Montenegrin police and claim to feel safe in their presence. UNHCR concludes that return to the villages of Rugovska Klisura is possible but the situation still remains to be checked and the actual possibility assessed. However, an attempt by a small group of IDPs from Pec who tried to return there on 29 August failed when their minibus was turned back to Montenegro by the police at the checkpoint at Savina Voda. As reported above, UNHCR raised this question at the meeting with foreign ministry officials in Pristina 31 August.

Statistics (as at 27 August 1998)

Ministry of Interior Count of New Arrivals:
34,238
Montenegrin Red Cross Registered Caseload:

Total

Ulcinj

Rozaje

Podgorica

Plav

Berane

Others

15,117

4,561

4,567

7,483

1,160

1,000

35,913

Average of the two figures is shown on the first page. The discrepancy may be due to the fact that the Ministry of Interior is not keeping track of IDPs traveling through mountain paths. The registration in each municipality conducted by the Commissioner for Displaced Persons' Office is proceeding slowly, with only 9,000 IDPs recorded to date.

2.2 Shelter in Rozaje. The maximum hosting capacity in this municipality has been reached. Due to the absence of any registration system it is still impossible to establish the accurate number of persons who arrived in Rozaje since 24 August. Red Cross has distributed bread and blankets. Temporary shelter is the greatest problem and one that needs to be solved urgently. In the town of Bukovica, north of Rozaje the mayor and the local RC secretary told UNHCR that the local inhabitants have declared IDPs not welcome and warned about potential security incidents.

RC continues registration and distribution of flour, rice, sugar, oil blankets and mattrasses. UNHCR requested the Republican Commissioner for Refugees to provide a list of buildings that could be rehabilitated quickly.

3. ALBANIA

3.1 Security situation. The situation in the Tropoje District remained tense throughout the week of 24 August. On 24 August a UNHCR vehicle was hi-jacked by two armed persons. As the security situation deteriorated the restriction of movements of the FO staff were imposed and the international staff was temprarily moved to Tirana. The international organisations remaining on 29 August are: ECMM, OSCE , WFP and UNHCR.

The general situation in Kukes and Has area is calm. No incidents have been reported in the past week.

3.2 Displacement. During the week 180 persons, the majority of whom had been displaced from Junik, crossed the border at Zogaj and reported to the UNHCR in Bajram Curri.

3.3 Assistance. The September food distribution in the north is scheduled to begin 4-5 September and will consist of IFRC food parcels and WFP bulk food, supplemented by local purchases. WFP intends to distribute assistance to 2,000 refugees in the Tropoje region whilst IFRC will cover Bajram Curri. Although WFP warehouse remains safe and there has been no looting, food stocks are kept to an absolute minimum with deliveries made immediately before distribution. Heating and cooking stoves will be a major necessity in the oncoming weeks.

3.4 Shelter. The SDR works on several sites (two of them in Fierze) in the north is progressing slowly. Rehabilitation of the transit centre and one of the three collective centres in Bajram Curri is to begin shortly.

In the southern town of Burrel collective accommodation shall be build. Two sites further to the south are being considered.

In the area of Kruma, Kukes and Kalimas the German Shelter team from THW have started the rehabilitation of a kindergarden. They have also undertaken identification of other sites to be rehabilitated.

4. FYR of MACEDONIA

4.1 The figures differ to a large extent.

According to the information of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior 12,000 "guests" from Kosovo have been registered in the period March - July. It is estimated that some 2,000 are accommodated privately in the region of Tetovo.

The Macedonian Red Cross and the Federation estimate that there are approximately 3-5,000 people from Kosovo, while UNHCR Pristina estimates some 20,000 people from Kosovo to have arrived in Macedonia with tourist visas. Those who approach the Red Cross are assisted directly by what they have in stock: food, hygienic supplies and bedding.

To date about 20 - 30 families have been assisted or referred to UNHCR for help.

For information, please contact:
Fernando del Mundo, UNHCR Pristina
Tel: 381-38-321-09