UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Humanitarian Situation Report 80

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 18 Feb 1999
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

The situation in Kosovo has become generally calm while everyone waits for results from the Rambouillet talks. There was no new large-scale population displacement and some continuing return of IDPs over the past week. Despite the lull in fighting, almost daily incidents of violence and Yugoslav Army exercises toward the end of the reporting period caused localized population movements. About 1,000 persons left there homes in Prcevo near Klina Monday when Yugoslav Army tanks and armored vehicles took positions overlooking the town. Similar military exercises in Vucitrn caused women and children to leave five villages with a total population of 9,000. Reports Tuesday were that the exercises had ended and these persons were returning home. About one dozen persons fled from the village of Kisela Banja north of Pristina. In the Drenica area, the Orthodox convent at Devic was abandoned by its nuns, apparently after a robbery. The burials of the Rogovo and Racak dead during the week also opened the way to returns, and several villages in the Suva Reka-Stimlje and Decane areas saw the beginning of return.

Relief Distribution

Heavy snowfalls created difficulties for delivery of humanitarian aid, but inter-agency convoys led by UNHCR continued to work at three per day most days, assisting thousands of displaced persons and others in need. Multi-wheel drive trucks enabled a convoy to reach the Rugovo Canyon in western Kosovo with food and non-food items for some 3,000 people trapped in their villages in the snow-covered mountains. One of the biggest multi-agency convoys this year delivered aid to 25,000 IDPs, returnees, and host families at Djinovce in Suva Reka, and Glogovac. This convoy included 17 trucks with 69.2 tons of wheat flour, 7 tons of beans, 5.7 tons of sugar, 6,766 liters of oil, and 3,000 food parcels. These supplies came from UNHCR, WFP, Mother Teresa Society, Doctors of the World, and Catholic Relief Services.

Contingency Plan

Humanitarian agencies have begun considering possible scenarios for the post-Rambouillet period in Kosovo. UNHCR supported by OCHA has identified key assumptions and planning considerations under best case, probable, and worst case scenarios. Consultation with other agencies on these scenarios and development of corresponding action plans is underway. Although specific timelines may vary, a positive outcome in Rambouillet would open the way for a gradual transition from emergency aid to reconstruction and development in Kosovo. Coordination among agencies and donors would be of crucial importance and was discussed in various inter-agency meetings during the past week. In general, it was agreed that there would continue to be activities related to protection, returns, and humanitarian assistance for quite some time alongside reconstruction.

Security

Routine stops on convoys and NGO vehicles by the MUP have become more common. Four trucks of relief from German NGO Cap Anamour were held up and confiscated by police over the weekend. Norwegian Church Aid in Kosovo was visited by MUP and questioned about its channelling of funds, while MUP also blocked animal feed deliveries by another NGO. A French NGO had problems with aggressive KLA soldiers in the past ten days. In an effort to reduce the grounds for harassment in the field, UNHCR has suggested that NGOs provide the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with staff lists and descriptions of programs, just as UN agencies and embassies do.

A large bomb was placed in a tree in the main square in Urosevac, about 35 km south of Pristina, on 13 February. It exploded at 12:55h, injuring 9, two seriously. This represents another escalation of urban terrorism.

Although the problem of landmines seems to be relatively limited, the issues of unexploded ordnance will be addressed in an educational campaign. Two leaflets and a poster on the dangers of landmines and how to avoid accidents have been printed by UNICEF and are ready for distribution, initially through schools. A pre-testing of the leaflet photocopy proved to be useful, since it showed that most of the interviewed children had no or very little knowledge about explosive devices in general.

Shelter

UNHCR and 17 international organizations have completed phase two of a shelter survey in Kosovo and issued a report on the survey covering 654 villages in 19 municipalities. The report gives information on damage to housing, as well as on affected population and winterization programs of different shelter agencies. The results show that the conflict affected 440 villages and damaged 32,719 houses in varying degrees. Of the total houses, 75 percent need major repairs to complete reconstruction and 25 percent minor to major repairs. The affected villages account for 60 percent of the municipalities' pre-conflict population of 770,000.

Children

The findings of a recently completed nutrition survey carried out by UNICEF, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) and Mercy Corps International (MCI) show that although severe or moderate malnutrition was not prevalent, almost every fifth child aged between 6 and 59 months in Kosovo was found to be stunted. This means that the need for child growth monitoring is immense. The same survey showed that two thirds of surveyed households do not have access to clean water or proper sanitation facilities. Every third household reports a lack of hygiene supplies such as soap or washing detergent. At the time of the survey, oral rehydration salt (ORS) was found in only 16% of households with children .

As part of the support to government and Mother Theresa Association health units UNICEF has provided government health facilities with 60 essential pediatric drug kits, covering the quarterly requirements of all primary health units, as well as the children's departments in the six district clinical centers in Pristina, Gnjilane, Prizren, Pec and Djakovica. Support is provided to mobile medical teams operated by Medecins du Monde (MDM) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with essential pediatric drug kits for use in the field.

UNHCR reported that a workshop on child related issues took place from 15-17 February attended by UNHCR, UNICEF, ICRC, and Save the Children Fund representatives from several countries, a representative of the Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, and representatives from the Refugee Commissions of Serbia and Montenegro and several NGOs. The workshop provided a participatory framework to collectively identify critical child and adolescent protection and assistance concerns and to work towards collective strategies to address them. Some participants have stayed on for a UNICEF/UNHCR education mission in Belgrade, Montenegro, and Kosovo.

Education

In cooperation with a group of five international NGOs and members of the European Kosovo Observer Mission (EU-KDOM) UNICEF has organized an assessment of school conditions. The results of the survey conducted in December and January in 13 Kosovo municipalities show that the education system has been severely affected by the conflict during 1998. Estimates are that out of 900, at least 163 schools were destroyed or seriously damaged, while many other have suffered minor damages, or have been looted of furniture, heaters and electrical installations. UNICEF is procuring 40,000 individual student kits, 2,500 desks and 5,000 chairs and 1,000 blackboards for schools in 4 municipalities, as well as wood for heating for 35,000 beneficiaries. Heating stoves are being provided by ICRC, UNHCR and international NGOs.

Health

In the framework of capacity-building of the public health sector in Kosovo, WHO continues the series of workshops on "BASIC EPIDEMIOLOGY IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS" (the first seminar on Basic Epidemiology in Emergency Situations organized by WHO in Pristina was held in December 1998). In preparation for the second workshop of this kind, WHO organizes computer training for medical doctors from the Mother Teresa Association and from the Public Health Institutes in Kosovo. The computer course and workshop are attended by a mixed group of health professionals consisting of 12 medical doctors (6 from Mother Teresa and 6 from the Institutes of Public Health). WHO international consultants provide lectures for the workshop.

The Regional Health Coordination Meeting chaired by WHO and Institute of Public Health in Pristina will be held on Wednesday, February 17, 1999. The focus of the meeting is VACCINATION COVERAGE IN KOSOVO IN 1998. WHO will present the Report on Vaccination Coverage for 1998 (with a breakdown per district and per municipality) to all participating agencies. The Report has been revised by WHO based on reports from IPH of Pristina.

The Mobile Clinics Coordination Meeting chaired by WHO revised the monthly epidemiological statistics. The first seminar on Basic Epidemiology in Emergency Situations organized by WHO in Pristina was held in December 1998.

Joint UNICEF and WHO Immunization Services

UNICEF has assisted in planning, negotiating access and providing logistics support for local immunization efforts. In collaboration with three international NGOs considerable progress has been made in re-establishing a basic immunisation service in Glogovac (UNICEF/MDM), Decane (UNICEF/Medecins Sans Frontieres), Djakovica (UNICEF/MSF), Malisevo (UNICEF/MDM), Klina (UNICEF/IMC), Srbica (MSF/UNICEF) and Pristina (UNICEF). In Malisevo, with UNICEF support, local vaccination teams have vaccinated some 2,000 children in 27 villages. The second vaccination round is scheduled for the end of February.

MONTENEGRO

The registration of displaced from Kosovo continues. UNHCR reports that 70 people per day are being processed at registration points in the North and 120 persons per day in Ulcinj.

An MOU was signed between UNHCR, UNICEF, and the Government of Montenegro on education of IDPs, opening the way to an agreed informal education for children from Kosovo in the government schools. The system of education will be organized by UNICEF and implemented by IDP teachers, with funding and structural support from UNHCR. The Ministry of Education will supervise the interim arrangement which lasts through August 1999.

Blankets and mattresses were delivered to the Red Cross in 4 northern municipalities where IDP new arrivals were reported. Packing of clothing items ( 4 items) for babies (0-2) has started in Zetatrans warehouse. Upon completion the packed bags with UNHCR logo will be distributed together with JEN baby parcel ( 0-2) to IDPs/Refugees in Collective Centers.

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA

As of 12 February 1999 the Macedonian Red Cross has registered 1,162 persons affected by the conflict in Kosovo and has distributed food and non-food items to an approximate caseload of more than 900 persons. High protein biscuits were provided by UNICEF. Catholic Relief Services and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has started to distribute winter comforters and plastic sheeting after a proposed firewood distribution encountered difficulties.

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 - E-mail: carden@unhcr.ch