UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK): 10-20 Jun 1999
The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) consists of four substantive components: interim civil administration (UN-led), humanitarian affairs (UNHCR-led), reconstruction (EU-led) and institution building (OSCE-led).
Day 1 - 11 June
Civil Administration - The first action taken by the Secretary-General was to appoint a Representative to coordinate all UN activities on the ground. Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian, and currently Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs at the UN, was named as Special Representative on an interim basis, on Friday night, 11 June. Mr. de Mello had recently visited the region in order to assess damages and make recommendations for assistance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, as part of a region-wide strategy encompassing all the countries and regions of south-eastern Europe in sectors ranging from agriculture and the environment to the issue of disarmament of small arms.
Day 2 - 12 June
Humanitarian - A small team of humanitarian agency liaison officers accompanied the first NATO deployment, known as K-FOR, into Kosovo on this day.
Civil Administration - De Mello assembled an advance headquarters team in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This team was composed of political, humanitarian, civil affairs, legal, police, military, public information, administrative, logistics and communications personnel.
Day 3 - 13 June
Civil Administration - Sergio Vieira de Mello held his first meeting with the NATO commander in Kosovo, British Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Jackson. The two agreed to meet daily.
Humanitarian - De Mello's advance team proceeded into Pristina by road on Sunday, 13 June. Alongside the advance headquarters team to Kosovo were representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The first multi-agency convoy to Kosovo in nearly three months included 23 trucks carrying the first batch of "MREs" - meals ready to eat, pallets of bottled water, wheat flour, blankets, tents, plastic sheeting and hygienic kits. At least two such convoys have travelled twice daily since from Skopje, which is the logistical hub for relief operations, into Kosovo.
The initial focus for aid agencies and non-governmental organizations would be to assist the estimated 500,000 to 600,000 internally displaced people in desperate need of aid in Kosovo. Ultimately the humanitarian operation will assist the three quarters of a million people outside the Serbian province who are eager to return home.
K-FOR brought to the attention of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) the existence of various mass grave sites. K-FOR secured these sites pending arrival of (ICTY) investigators.
Day 4 - 14 June
Institution Building - Immediately after establishing the United Nations advance team headquarters in Kosovo, on Sunday 13 June, Sergio Vieira de Mello travelled to Prizren, where he met with community leaders who will assist the United Nations mission to build Kosovo's democratic institutions.
Humanitarian - UNHCR began distribution of emergency aid. Four trucks carrying 50 tons of emergency supplies arrived in Glogovac, and distribution began for an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 displaced persons in the town.
Day 5 - 15 June
Humanitarian - UNHCR opened its satellite office in Prizren, from where food convoys can be dispatched to villages in the south-western part of the province.
The first stumbling block encountered by aid agencies was the spontaneous return of thousands of refugees crossing back into Kosovo by car, tractor trailer and on foot. They came from both Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Mine incidents were reported among returnees from both countries. The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern about refugees returning ahead of Serb withdrawals and the deployment of K-FOR troops. At the same time, UNHCR expressed deep concern about the departure of thousands of Serbian civilians in Kosovo, of which an estimated 13,000 had crossed into Montenegro, with more crossing into Serbia. The Serb population of Kosovo is estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000.
Institution Building - The Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General met with the Governor of Pristina, who said his primary concern at the moment was public security.
Civil Administration - Meanwhile, in Geneva, the Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Frechette, began meeting with representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). OSCE is to lead the institution-building effort in Kosovo on behalf of the United Nations. She also met with representatives of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission. The EU, under the Secretary-General's plan, would lead the reconstruction and development of Kosovo. The Deputy Secretary-General's mission in Geneva was to refine the allocation of tasks among the UN and non-UN actors.
Day 6 - 16 June
Civil Administration - The Deputy Secretary-General continued her negotiations in Geneva. She met with first with a NATO team, and later with representatives of those three non-UN actors, as well as UN departments and agencies involved.
Sergio Vieira de Mello met with the United Nations Police Commissioner. They plan to bring into Kosovo 150 to 200 United Nations civilian police monitors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, an advance team of a police contingent that could eventually number more than 2,000.
ICTY's forward planning team made preparations for the bulk of the team of investigators to arrive. They began conducting preliminary work, specifically, mapping and surveying crime scenes. One of these scenes was the Yugoslav Police Headquarters in Pristina, which had been secured by K-FOR. From this site they took cartons of files for possible use in an investigation.
Humanitarian - The spontaneous return of Kosovar refugees gained momentum. At Morini alone, the main crossing point from Albania, over 10,000 people crossed that day. The same phenomenon occurred from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
UNHCR redeployed its international staff from Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Kosovo; twenty went in on this day. UNHCR provided mine awareness materials to the refugees as they cross the border. With NGOs, they established two way stations on the road to Prizren to provide water, medical services and tow ropes for tractors which might break down.
Meanwhile, Sergio Vieira de Mello visited some areas he had not been able to see during his assessment mission. He requested K-FOR to do aerial assessments of the location of internally displaced people so that the WFP could deliver food to them. On that day, WFP delivered 20 tonnes of bread to the town of Prizren from their mobile bakeries in Kukes, Albania.
As of this day, the UN's advance team numbered thirty. They continued their consultations with provincial authorities to identify gaps in order to determine the degree of penetration that the United Nations civil administration would need to take.
On this day, according to the Yugoslav Red Cross, 24,000 Kosovar Serbs had entered Serbia, and 9,000 had gone into Montenegro. De Mello and General Michael Jackson of K-FOR appeared on local television, appealing to the Serb civilian population not to leave Kosovo.
The UN began working to restore the water supply to Pristina.
Day 7 - 17 June
Political - Sergio Vieira de Mello and General Jackson, met with the Patriarch of Belgrade, who was in Pristina to discuss the exodus of Serbs from the province. Indications of the Serb withdrawal were departure of personnel from the main hospital in Prizren, as Serb doctors and support staff had fled; and departure of Serb staff who had operated the water system rendering Pristina without water.
De Mello also met with the newly-appointed head of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Committee for Cooperation and Links with the United Nations, Nubojsa Vujovic, in Pristina. He also met with all three of the Kosovo Albanian political parties, the LDK, the LDP and the UCK, who endorsed the UN Mission in Kosovo and committed their support for a multi-party democracy in the province.
Carl Bildt, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Balkans, was in Geneva where he held consultations with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organizations. Two main issues were addressed: the situation of prisoners transferred from Kosovo to other Serbian jails, and the question of health care provision in Kosovo. According to ICRC, Pristina University Hospital was Kosovo's key health facility. Run directly from the Health Ministry in Belgrade, it was previously staffed and administered almost exclusively by Serbs.
The Deputy Secretary-General briefed members of the Security Council on her two days of meetings in Geneva on the Kosovo operation.
Humanitarian - Spontaneous returns of refugees from Albania and FYROM had reached more than 34,000. The UN continued to stress the security dangers to these returnees.
UNHCR opened its fourth office in Kosovo, in Pec. In order to pave the way for refugee return, it dispatched a helicopter assessment mission over a large area of south-west Kosovo, flying over such towns as Urosevac, Prizren, Dakovica and Pec. The level of destruction of housing was "shocking" according to a UNHCR housing expert who was part of the helicopter mission. According to that housing expert, the initial findings would indicate that based on the level of destruction, the task of winterizing the homes would be extremely difficult. The original plan had been to use plastic sheeting to make winter-proof at least one room in each house. UNHCR said they might have to resort to erecting tents in the yards of the homes too damaged to live in immediately.
Day 8 - 18 June
Civil Administration - "I appeal to all parties and every citizen of Kosovo to show utmost restraint and patience as the long and hard work of peace-building and reconstruction begins," the Secretary-General said in a statement to the people of Kosovo issued at UN Headquarters.
"I urge the Kosovo Albanian population to return to their homes, but to be patient, and to do so with the assistance of KFOR and the United Nations. I urge the Serbian population of Kosovo to remain in their homes and do their part to return Kosovo to a life of peaceful co-existence among all communities, " he said.
"The United Nations and KFOR are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all the people of Kosovo, regardless of ethnic background. I urge all parties to recommit themselves to creating a life of peaceful coexistence, which is the foundation for lasting peace in Kosovo and throughout the region". See SG/SM/7037.
Carl Bildt, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Balkans, attended a conference in Vienna entitled "The Other Yugoslavia", organized by the Austrian Foreign Ministry. The roundtable discussion included Yugoslav politicians and intellectuals on the possibilities of a future democratic, inter-ethnic and inter-confessional future for Yugoslavia. The meeting attempted to define possibilities for the political, economic and cultural reconstruction, as well as ways on how the European Union, and Austria in particular, could contribute to this.
Humanitarian - Sergio Vieira de Mello visited by helicopter areas of reported widespread damage and displacement, the towns of Djakovica, Pec, Drnica and Orahovac. De Mello later said that 75 percent of Pec seemed to have been set on fire, and that apparently every Albanian house had been destroyed.
De Mello met with Vetan Surroj, a newspaper editor from Pristina who went into hiding during the hostilities.
His staff concluded an agreement with the Power and Water Authority that would provide more security to the technicians working there in the hope of regularizing service. Parts of Pristina had water that day.
UNHCR reported that 50,000 refugees had returned to Kosovo spontaneously in the past three days. Nine casualties from mine incidents had resulted. Sergio Vieira de Mello finalized a plan to establish a Mine Action Centre in Pristina very soon. In the meantime, K-FOR was assuming responsibility for supervising demining activities until the civilian component could assume responsibility. There were four civilian deminers in Kosovo at that time, with more on the way.
WFP took a convoy of food supplies to thousands of Serbs isolated in the town of Urosevac.
Day 9 - 19 June
Humanitarian - UNHCR sent 140 metric tons of aid to 10 different municipalities in central Serbia to aid an estimated 50,000 Serb displaced from Kosovo, and visited areas of central Serbia on the weekend to assess the situation which it described as "grim." The municipalities with the largest concentrations of displaced people were identified as Kraljevo, Nis and Kragujec -- areas where unemployment is very high, food stocks low and accommodation for displaced virtually non-existent.
Day 10 - 20 June
Humanitarian - Sergio Vieira de Mello told a press conference in Pristina that the UN mission in Kosovo "is probably the greatest challenge the UN has faced since the launching in the late 1940s of the concept of peacekeeping. This is truly a big challenge. Never elsewhere, even in Cambodia where I have worked, has the UN assumed such a broad, such far-reaching, such important executive tasks."
Within the next days, de Mello said he would be appointing international interim administrators at the district and municipal levels, start the deployment of the international police and take the necessary steps to re-establish a multi-ethnic and democratic judicial system in Kosovo.
De Mello said had begun placing senior civil affairs officers in key places such as Pristina, Prizren and soon, Pec.
He said that within three months, up to 3,000 international civilian police should have been deployed, including unarmed police monitors, "a kind of rapid reaction force" and border police monitors. The recruiting and training of Kosovar candidates for a local police force will start "as soon as possible," he said.
"We have been seeking out and talking to skilled Kosovar Albanians who formerly occupied key positions in the administration of the province, as well as in the management of public services," he said.
He also announced his intention of establishing a "quick impact projects trust fund" that would enable the UN mission to respond immediately to emergency needs in a broad spectrum of sectors affecting the local population.
Humanitarian - Eight trucks carrying aid from various agencies reached Pec in western Kosovo.