UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Situation Report 60

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 04 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 Fighting has been reported in the course of the last couple of days in the area south of Prizren. Tusus, the suburb of Prizren has been a target of fighting and is reported completely deserted. The villages of Posliste, Bilusa, Hoca Zagradska, Jeskova, Ljubicevo, Kustendil, Leskovec and Lez were reported encircled. Some 20,000 people are reported to have fled to the vineyards surrounding Prizren and into the city itself (no. of inhabitants 70,000). 35 casualties have been reported. Along the main highway between Pristina and Pec fighting is reported in the Iglarevo area, along the Pec - Pristina road. KDOM visited the village of Rusinovce, municipality of Lipljan, which was shelled the night of 01 September with 4 people killed and 16 injured.

Fighting was also reported in the areas of Drenovac and Kramovik, northwest of the town of Orahovac.

In Ostrozub, a village between Malisevo and Orahovac, clashes have been reported today.

1.2 Displacement. Thousands of people forced from their homes in Sedlare pleaded with UNHCR on Wednesday to ask the government to allow them to return to their villages in safety. They also asked for food. About 5000 of them have been hiding in the hills around Sedlare for two weeks. Representatives of the villagers said 170-300 houses have been damaged. UNHCR team saw several thousand people living in the open over a 3 km stretch of a valley at the edge of Sedlare and noted many destroyed and damaged houses. UNHCR also visited Kula and Glavica, some 15km southwest of Pristina. Some 3000 displaced people have been living there for two weeks. They appealed for food and asked the team to arrange for at least women and children to go to Pristina, their request to proceed to Pristina having been turned down by the authorities on 31 August. The men expressed a wish to go back to their homes at nearby Sandoz and Korotic but said they were frightened.

The situation in Pec is calm. 300 IDPs are living in the village along with the 1300 inhabitants. No humanitarian assistance is needed. More than 2000 IDPs, UCK fighters among them, are reported on the road from Sedlare to Klecka. About 12,000 IDPs are crowded in Guncat and five other neighboring villages. It is estimated that at least 40,000 people are gathered in villages around Pagarusa and the neighbouring Semetiska river banks in an aftermath of late August shellings of the area.

2000 IDPs are reported to be living in Golubac, muncipality of Klina.

1.3 Returns. En route to Sedlare UNHCR saw the situation in Magura returning to normal. At Sedlare, more than 5000 people who had been living outdoors for 10 days returned to the village during the day 3 September. Except for badly destroyed Rusinovac, little damaged could be seen in the villages of Mirena, Gornja and Donja Fustica, Sandoz and Korotica. A UNHCR team visited the town of Orahovac on Tuesday and found that more people have returned. However, tensions remain and there is heavy police presence. KDOM reports returns to be taking place to the area of Gornje and Donje Prekaze in Srbica municipality and Glogovac.

The first of 11 humanitarian centres announced by the Government on 27 August opened in Orahovac (run by the Yugoslav Red Cross) but, having only small amounts of wheat flour, sugar and oil, ran out of stocks quickly. The Prefect of Kosovo states that new supplies will reach soon and asks humanitarian agencies for support.

1.4 Convoys. Two multi-agency convoys with contributions from UNHCR, WFP, Mercy Corps, International Children's Aid Direct, Catholic Relief Services, Centre for Protection of Women and Children delivered relief aid on Thursday to some 20,000 IDPs at Nekovac and Banjice villages in Glogovac, southwest of Pristina. The shipment consisted of 2000 family food packs for one month, 106 tons of wheat flour, 60 rolls of plastic sheeting, biscuits, beans, oil, baby food, high protein biscuits, sanitary napkins, hygienic items, shoes, clothes and sleeping bags. UNHCR truck carried 6720 HDRs to Guncat to an estimated 12 -15,000 IDPs today.

During the week 31 August - 4 September, there were four multi-agency convoys in all.

1.5 Meetings. UNHCR met Tuesday with the US government delegation who offered to provide substantial food aid during winter in Kosovo. US is prepared to send 2000 food packs (HDRs) to each of the 11 humanitarian centres. Hugh Parmer, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Humanitarian Response said US will also increase its aid in medicines and sanitation.

On 2 September, UNHCR had a meeting with General Lukic, Kosovo police commander, who promised to do everything possible to ensure the safety of people returning to the villages and urged the agency to take the lead role in organising these returns. He promised assistance to avoid unnecessary delays in aid deliveries and thanked the agency for its plan to provide the HDRs to humanitarian centres.

Mr Nicholas Morris, UNHCR Special Envoy and Ms Margaret O'Keeffe, COM FRY visited the municipality of Lipljan Thursday and saw several villages damaged and abandoned. In the evening, they met with ICRC officials and Kosovo Prefect Veljko Odalovic.

Estimated Displacement Figures: (as at 24 August 1998)

Displacement within Kosovo 1/
170,000
Displacement into Montenegro 2/
37,200
Displacement into other parts of Serbia
20,000
Refugees in Bosnia Herzegovina 3/
5,200
Refugees into Albania 4/
14,000
Refugees into Turkey 5/
2,000
Visitors into FYROM 6/
1,000
TOTAL
246,200

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 2,622 registered asylum seekers
4/ Includes 7,000 registered in Tropoje District and an estimated 7,000 who have left for other areas.
5/ Figure announced by the Regional Bureau of Europe
6/ Figure provided by a local NGO, El Hilal.

1.6 Mary Robinson, High Commissioner of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in Geneva 2 September she was haunted and terrified by the weekend's images of the charred remains in a makeshift crematorium. She stressed that although humanitarian crisis is growing the political crisis remains unresolved. She called for an independent investigation by experts, including international forensic specialists, into the violent deaths resulting from aprmed actions. "Joint efforts to promote independent investigation into these tragedies are in the interest of all persons committed to human rights in Kosovo", Ms Robinson said.

1.7 John Shattuck, US Assistant Secretary of State will arrive in Kosovo today, 4 September and will be joined by Bob Dole, Chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons on Saturday. They are expected to meet with Serb and Kosovo Albanian leaders and NGOs and visit the sites in the region where alleged human rights violations have occurred. On Monday they are scheduled to meet with officials and NGOs in Belgrade.

1.8 UNICEF assistance. A team of UNICEF officials visited Kosovo on 1 September. In the village of Cirez, municipality of Srbica they assessed the condition of IDPs and provision of humanitarian assistance. One of the members of the team Mr John Donohue, Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe said the only encouraging thing was that everyone agreed that children should not suffer their parents' mistakes. On 2 September Mr Donohue visited Plav in Montenegro to assess the situation of the IDPs accommodated in a collective centre. In Podgorica he discussed with Montenegrin government further UNICEF energency assistance to children and women, especially in the fields of health and education.

1.9 WFP Food Aid Update. Today WFP led a small convoy to a village near Malisevo to deliver 800 HDRs to some 100 displaced persons. CRS is participating in the convoy accompanied by a USAID representative. Assessment of the current situation and needs will be made during the delivery.

WFP has received a confirmation of a USD 4.5 million donation by the USA under the Kosovo Flash Appeal that will provide 10,000 tons of wheat flour. Nonetheless, there is a gap in the pipeline for operations in Kosovo until the wheat flour arrives.
WFP accompanied UNHCR to Rozaje to assess the situation of IDPs since the food distribution in August. A coordination meeting is planned for 7 September to plan this months' food distribution programs.

2. MONTENEGRO

2.1 UNHCR reports that the influx has scaled down since 31 August. UNHCR team monitoring the mountain villages of Rozaje witnessed only a few families were arriving from the area of Rugovska Klisura. The road from Cakor has reportedly been closed by the Serbian police. The road from Pec to Rozaje is still open.

2.2 Returns to Pec. The IDPs who have been unsuccessfully trying to return to Pec by the main road told UNHCR of harrassment at the Serbian checkpoint where they were not allowed to proceed without the identity cards. Yet, the regular bus lines Podgorica - Pec are still operating normally and the Roma women, Montenegrin traders and a few Albanian women with IDs travel without any problems. Some od the IDPs accommodated in Ulcinj, Rozaje and Plav asked UNHR for assistance in returning to Pec and the surrounding villages.

2.3 Assistance. UNHCR received proposals from SDR and IOCC for the distribution of food and non food items. WFP has opened an office in Podgorica. World Vision is preparing a proposal for adjustment of the existing facilities to the winter conditions.

A logistic coordination meeting will be held on 7 September to plan the distribution of food and non food items.

Statistics (as at 27 August 1998)

Ministry of Interior Count of New Arrivals:
36,072
Montenegrin Red Cross Registered Caseload:

Total

Ulcinj

Rozaje

Podgorica

Plav

Berane

Others

15,951

5,887

4,689

7,483

1,182

3,242

38,434

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.

2.4 Shortage of medicines. Municipal health centres report they can barely cope with the increasing needs for medical services and call for the international assistance.

2.5 Education. Following the decision taken by the Montenegrin Government 9000 children will not be integrated in the Montenegrin education system this term. The explanation given is that they do not hold valid school certificates (parallel system certificates not being recognised). UNICEF and UNHCR met today the Ministry of Education whose attitude was positive and who promised to find a compromise, but had to refer the issue to the Parliament. Thus, only the first grade children have been accepted to schools.

3. ALBANIA

No updated reports received.

4. FYR of MACEDONIA

No updated reports received.

For information, please contact:

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