UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Situation Report 73

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 04 Dec 1998
26 November - 3 December 1998
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. Population movements remain fluid although it is believed that the overall level of return is increasing and that fewer people are staying with host families in their areas of origin. ( See point 5, Kosovo Update 72 for UNHCR's most recent estimates ). UNHCR has reported significant returns in Decane, Junik, Lapusnik and Golubovac during the period under review. In other areas such as the villages in the vicinity of Pec and Klina, the pace of return has stabilised. Returns to villages near the Albanian border such as Dobruste have been more tentative. There have also been very few returns to Malisevo, even though large numbers of houses are still habitable. The Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM) is planning to have a permanent presence in Malisevo to help instil confidence in those wishing to return.

Relief distribution

2. The decentralisation of aid deliveries began during the past week. On 2 December convoy operations started from Pec in Western Kosovo, sending deliveries to Gornja Luka in Decane and Klina. The process was closely coordinated between UNHCR, MSF, MCI and ICRC. Although convoys have been running six days a week from Pristina since mid-October the decentralisation process will continue. The next stage of the process will be in the Prizren area when the CRS warehouse becomes operational. This will be followed by convoy runs from Mitrovica.

3. During the period under review UNHCR and WFP led convoys which distributed food and non-food items to meet the needs of more than 130,000 displaced , returnees and host families in the municipalities of Orahovac, Lipljan, Srbica, Glogovac, Klina, Stimlje, Decane, Djakovica, Glogovac, Suva Reka and Pec. The supplies on these convoys came from UNHCR, WFP, Mercy Corps International, Doctors of the World and Catholic Relief Services.

Shelter

4. Following the recent interagency shelter survey ( see point 13, Kosovo Update No. 72), UNHCR has distributed 4,206 shelter kits -- plastic sheeting, wood, nails and hammers -- to enable returnees to winterise one room. It is also distributing heavy-duty plastic sheeting and wooden beams for temporary repairs of damaged roofs until reconstruction can be undertaken in spring.

Women and children

5. Save the Children is coordinating meetings to address child rights in Kosovo. The first meeting, which was held during the last week of November, centred on the lack of identity documents among some children and the measures needed to resolve this situation. UNHCR has visited return areas in Kosovo with a view to strengthening community service programmes for women and children.

Health

6. A health/nutrition assessment of children under five years of age is scheduled to start in the first half of December when UNICEF, MCI and ACF, will start to train data collectors. The assessment is a scientific survey of the general health and nutrition of displaced children under the age of five throughout Kosovo.

7. Using cluster sampling, teams of data collectors will travel throughout Kosovo to gather information from 30 clusters (individual villages and/or urban neighbourhoods, picked at random by a computer). A minimum of 1,200 households will be surveyed. The data collectors will consist of doctors, nurses, health professionals and other individuals. About half will come from the Mother Theresa network. The food security situation will also be assessed with a view to determining whether specialised feeding programmes should be implemented in the future.

NGO non-food items

8. Mercy Corps has taken the lead in organising a pipeline of non-food commodities available from the NGO community. Pipeline details, which include anticipated non-food deliveries by the NGOs for the next six months, can be obtained through MCI. Under its current OFDA grant, MCI has received significant quantities of non-food commodities over the past few weeks which are in the process of being distributed, mostly within MCI's area of responsibility (Pec and surrounding municipalities) as defined by the Food for Peace programme. These commodities include: 17,856 hygiene packs, 3,850 blankets 48,000 pairs of children's rubber boots, 5,000 cooking/heating stoves and 5,457 sleeping pads.

Security

9. The government Media Centre in Pristina said Army soldiers killed eight "terrorists" of the Kosovo Liberation Army on 3 December at Planeja village in the Prizren area near the border with Albania. The centre said nine terrorists attacked an army patrol, but were beaten back and that eight of them were shot dead. It was the worst incident so far reported since the cease-fire was called in Kosovo in October. Western diplomatic observers in Prizren reported the clash but had no immediate details.

Links between OSCE and the humanitarian community

10. Newly-arrived representatives from the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) are being trained in Brezovica, South of Pristina, before being dispatched to the field. Four hours of each KVM training session have been allocated for training on humanitarian issues. This component will be provided by UNHCR, ICRC and UNHCHR. The training programme will continue for at least 3 months.

11. OSCE hopes to deploy some 800 verifiers by the end of 1998 but the pace of arrival has slowed down due to visa-related difficulties. In the meantime the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM), which will eventually be absorbed by the OSCE-KVM, continues to increase in size. KDOM now has more than 320 personnel including 180 from the United States, 50 from Britain and 30 from the European Union and their teams drive around Kosovo in 90 different vehicles. Their presence along highways and remote villages has encouraged the return of internally displaced people in Kosovo.

Communications

12. MCI has distributed copies of a draft concept paper regarding the establishment of a joint NGO radio communications network for Kosovo. Once finalised, the concept paper will be endorsed by interested NGOs and given to international organisations for presentation to the authorities in Belgrade.

Capacity building

13. Mercy Corps International and World Vision International have finished the first stage of a Local Capacities for Peace Project (LCPP) in Kosovo.

The role of LCPP is to seek to identify ways in which international humanitarian assistance and development may be provided in conflict settings without exacerbating or prolonging tensions.

MONTENEGRO

14. Kosovo displaced living in the mountain villages near Rozaje have continued to leave in recent weeks due to the snow and the extreme cold. Many have returned to the villages in the West of Kosovo but some, particularly women, the elderly and children, have sought accommodation in the towns of Plav and Rozaje.

15. Efforts continue to ensure that the distribution of relief items in Plav and Rozaje is as efficient as possible. The Danish Refugee Council, World Vision, the International Orthodox Christian Community and Schweizerisches Arbeithilfswerk have received large quantities of food parcels and non-food items. In order to avoid duplication and maximise coverage information is provided to UNHCR which acts as an information clearing house for other agencies. Humanitarian agencies either make distributions directly to villages or use Mother Theresa Association or the Montenegrin Red Cross as implementing partners. The main items distributed are clothes, boots, blankets, food and hygiene parcels.

16. Following a recent mission by a UNHCR shelter specialist to mountain villages near Plav and Rozaje, it has been recommended that all occupied houses be winterised through the use of thick plastic sheeting to cover the rooves and inside walls. Major repairs to private houses should be avoided to ensure consistency with the shelter strategy for Kosovo, which is to make a minimum of one room weatherproof for the winter. UNHCR will provide plastic sheeting and tool kits for at least 110 units. Swiss Disaster Relief will make more substantive repairs to collective centres, defined for this purpose as buildings hosting more than 60 displaced. The new Polartec fleece blankets will also be provided to displaced living in the mountain villages.

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (FYROM)

17. As of 30 November 1998, the Macedonian Red Cross (MRC) has registered 740 refugees from Kosovo. The registration exercise has revealed that some Kosovo families are returning to their areas of origin. Those remaining in FYROM are showing a greater willingness to be registered. During the month of November, 416 beneficiaries received food, hygienic supplies, bedding and baby food ( if required ). UNHCR has supplied the Macedonian Red Cross with additional blankets to supplement their dwindling supply. MRC / IFRC are working with Catholic Relief Services to start a firewood distribution programme.

18. The MRC continues to coordinate with UNHCR on the issue of medical care and residency status and the MRC branch in Tetovo has started a public information campaign to encourage refugees to register for medical coverage under the UNHCR agreement with the Ministry of Health. Some of the smaller NGOs are starting to refer their caseloads to MRC to encourage them to register for health benefits.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

19. 6,336 refugees from Kosovo have been registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As at 1 December 1,296 are accommodated in transit centres and collective centres throughout the country. The number of Kosovo refugees lodged in the former factory in Hadzici, which is on the outskirts of Sarajevo, has fallen from a peak of over 1,200 in October 1998 to a current caseload of 800. Some 500 refugees were moved from Hadzici to smaller transit centres in Tuzla, Zenica, Bosanski Petrovac, Kljuc and Srednje while some left Hadzici voluntarily and found private accommodation. Some of the refugees sent to smaller centres with better facilities have inexplicably returned to Hadzici.

20. New transit centres in Bosanski Petrovac ( in Western Bosnia ) and Rakovica ( on the outskirts of Sarajevo ), with capacities of 1,000 and 500 persons respectively, are currently under construction. It is intended that the Kosovo refugees will move from Hadzici into these new transit centres in early 1999 when the construction work has been completed. However, many Kosovo refugees have insisted on resettlement to third countries, preferably Germany and Switzerland.

21. The Kosovo refugees in Hadzici are receiving large quantities of assistance from aid agencies. A caterer is providing breakfast and two hot meals per day. According to a nutritional survey by ACF the average ration of 3,000 kcal/person/day covers the daily energy requirements of the inhabitants. MSF provides daily medical care using drugs provided by PSF. UNHCR has two vehicles on standby for emergencies.

22. Large quantities of non-food items have been distributed: every refugee has been provided with a bed, mattress, two blankets, underwear and socks. Other items such as shoes, baby wear, hygienic material and kitchen sets and stoves have also been provided. Although the factory is connected to the Sarajevo town water supply, two tanks have been provided by MSF. UNHCR has provided 30 portable latrines which are cleaned three times per day by a contractor. In spite of the level of assistance provided the overall quality of accommodation is inadequate due to difficulties in obtaining adequate heating despite the provision of stoves by UNHCR and other donors.

For information, please contact:

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

David Carden (OCHA), UNHCR Belgrade
Tel: 381-11-344-2091Fax: 381-11-344-2947
E-mail: carden@unhcr.ch