UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Situation Report 63

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 19 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
MONTENEGRO

1.1 On 11th September, 1998 the Government of Montenegro released the following statement:

a) Montenegro has no real capacities for further acceptance of internally displaced persons and refugees.

b) The Government of Montenegro appeals to all those intending to enter Montenegro aiming to obtain a displaced / refugee status, not to do so, for there are no possibilities to find shelter.

c) The Government of Montenegro launches a Memorandum to the governments abroad additionally informing them on details regarding point one of these conclusions, as well as on needs of IDPs in Montenegro, asking for full economic support enabling Montenegro to continue with comprehensive society reforms.

d) The Government of Montenegro appeals to the parties involved in the Kosovo conflict to immediately halt fighting and other activities causing the exodus of the civilian population, in order to prevent further displacement of the people and to create the conditions for return.

1.2 On 11th September 3,000 displaced from the Decani area entered into the Plav municipality before the border was closed. On 13th September the local Montenegrin authorities in Plav and Rozaje transported the 3,000 displaced by bus to the Montenegrin border with Albania, via Gusinje, to the point of entry near Vrmos in Albania. There were allegedly some armed men among the new influx, from whom the women and children refused to be separated, despite the Government's offer of assistance. They are currently being sheltered in local homes or reception centres in Schkodra.

1.3 On 12th September UNHCR sent a letter to the President of Montenegro urging that the border be reopened.

1.4 On 15th September senior officials from UNHCR met the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Commissioner for Displaced Persons from the Republic of Montenegro to protest against the expulsion of the 3,000 Kosovo displaced into Albania and to reiterate the request that the border be reopened for humanitarian and human rights reasons.

1.5 In response to these overtures by UNHCR the Montenegrin Government indicated that it was already hosting 44,200 internally displaced from Kosovo, which together with 30,000 refugees from Bosnia Herzogovina and Croatia constituted 11.6 % of the population, and that it lacked the capacity to accommodate any future influx. In the three municipalities principally affected by the arrival of IDPs from Kosovo, Ulcinj, Plav and Rozaje, the IDPs outnumbered the local population. Consequently, it would continue to advise that displaced persons and refugees should not come to Montenegro. The Montenegrin Government also indicated its disappointment with the poor level of international support to help them with this burden.

1.6 Initial expectations that this decision might be interpreted in a "flexible" fashion by the Government of Montenegro have been dampened by press reports that an additional caseload of several hundred Kosovo displaced had been turned back at the Montenegrin border during the past two days.

Statistics (as at 18 September 1998)

Ministry of Interior Count of New Arrivals: 37,180

Montenegrin Red Cross Registered Caseload:

Ulcinj 17,349
Rozaje 8,721
Podgorica 5,216
Plav 8,246
Berane 1,231
Bjelo Polje 1,008
Others 2,447
Total 44,218

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.

KOSOVO

2.1 During the period under review fighting between the Serbian police and forces of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) intensified in the municipalities of Kosovska Mitrovica, Vucitrn and Podujevo with both sides reportedly incurring casualties. According to UNHCR approximately 10,000 people from at least 7 villages between Podujevo and Mitrovica fled the area following the outbreak of hostilities.

2.2 On 14th September, a KDOM vehicle hit an explosive device to the South of Likovac village in the central area of Drenica. The device caused the vehicle to turn over onto its roof injuring one of its 3 occupants. Although the KDOM representatives had to remain near the vehicle for several hours for security reasons, they were eventually evacuated from the area by the Serbian police.

2.3 The international community continues to express deep concern over the humanitarian plight of Kosovo displaced who have been forced from their homes into the woods and the mountains. It is clear that if these people remain out of their homes over the winter, they will be at serious risk of death. A recent survey by reliable sources over a six hour period in Drenica and the Southern part of Kosovo revealed a total of 7,500 displaced living in the open air. UNHCR estimates that there could be as many as 50,000 without access to shelter.

2.4 The Serbian Coordinator for Kosovo and other senior officials in Pristina have outlined their plans for the operation of the 12 relief distribution centres set up in the province. The centres are being managed by local authorities in collaboration with the Yugoslav Red Cross, mayors and representatives of ethnic Albanians. UNHCR has visited 10 of the 12 humanitarian centres.

2.5 A recent UNHCR field visit to Krusevac and Istinic, located to the East of Decane, revealed a high level of destruction. For example, in Krusevac at least 10 houses as well as two clinics were completely destroyed. In Istinic the Mother Theresa Centre has been converted into a Police Headquarters and the humanitarian centre has not yet started distribution. Some 12 families had returned to Krusevac, while the population of Istinic have not left their homes.

2.6 UNICEF-supported medical teams visiting villages in the municipalities of Glogovac, Srbica and Klina and Orahovac have noted an increased incidence of bronchitis, bronchopneumonia and tonsillitis among children due to the onset of colder weather. During the past week approximately 350 patients were treated of whom 70% were children. UNICEF has also provided emergency relief supplies to the newly-established humanitarian aid distribution centre in Orahovac.

2.7 On 16th September ICRC began a new round of deliveries of essential surgical supplies in towns in Kosovo. Hospitals in Pristina, Pec, Kosovska, Prizren, Djakovica and Gnjilane will each be provided with a complete unit of disposable surgical materials and instruments, as well as bedsheets. The total value of the supplies, which are a gift from the Norwegian Red Cross, amounts to more than DM 440,000.

2.8 On 12th September a convoy comprising representatives from UNHCR, WFP, Doctors of the World, Children's Aid Direct, Mercy Corps International, CRS and Kinderberg delivered 1,000 family food parcels, 8,916 packets of meals ready to eat, 36 tons of wheat flour, blankets, clothes, shoes, baby parcels, oil, beans, boots, milk powder, bed linen and clothes to an estimated 20,000 beneficiaries in the region of Dakovica and Pec.

2.9 On 15th September a UNHCR-led convoy including representation from the same agencies mentioned above distributed relief aid to more than 20,000 people in the region of Malisevo and Glogovac. The shipment included 2,000 family parcels, 80 tons of wheat flour, 60 rolls of plastic sheeting, blankets, winter clothes, mattresses, baby milk, salt, oil, beans detergent, sanitary napkins and footwear.

2.10 On 17th September multi-agency convoys escorted by UNHCR delivered relief aid for 10,000 people at Kosturic in Suva Reka and Grogovac in Dakovica. The shipment included family food parcels, wheat flour, plastic sheeting, mattresses, salt, detergent, clothing and boots. Participating agencies included WFP, Doctors of the World, Children's Aid Direct, Mercy Corps International and Handicap International.

ALBANIA

UNHCR at Bajram Curri alerted the Albanian authorities on 13th September to the arrival of some 3,000 Kosovars expelled from Montenegro. The Albanian authorities organised transport to take the new arrivals from Vrmos to Shkodra, where they were sheltered in accommodation UNHCR had prepared for refugees now in the Tropoje area.

FYR of MACEDONIA

No updated reports received.

DISPLACEMENT

Estimated Displacement Figures: (as at 17 September 1998)

Displacement within Kosovo1 200,000
Displacement into Montenegro2 40,699
Displacement into other parts of Serbia 20,000
Refugees in Bosnia Herzegovina3 5,700
Refugees into Albania4 17,000
Refugees into Turkey5 2,000
Visitors into FYROM 1,000
TOTAL 286,399

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 2622 registered asylum seekers
4 Includes 7,000 registered in Tropoje District, an estimated 7,000 who have left for other areas and the newly-arrived 3,000
5 Figure announced by the Regional Bureau of Europe
6 Figure provided by a local NGO, El Hilal.

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