UN Inter-Agency Update on Kosovo Situation Report 66

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 07 Oct 1998
30 September - 6 October 1998
This report has been compiled by UNHCR with support from OCHA and with inputs from UN Agencies and other humanitarian organisations in former Yugoslavia and Albania

KOSOVO

1. In the report submitted by the UN Secretary-General (SG) to the Security Council dated 3rd October, 1998 pursuant to Security Council Resolutions 1160 and 1199, the SG condemned the recent "appalling atrocities" witnessed by the international community in Kosovo. The report continues:

"It is clear beyond reasonable doubt that the great majority of such acts have been committed by security forces in Kosovo acting under the authority of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). But Kosovar Albanian paramilitary units have engaged in armed action also, and there is good reason to believe that they too have committed atrocities."

2. The report states that while FRY has the inherent right, as a sovereign state, to maintain public order and security and to respond to violent acts of provocation, this can in no way justify the systematic terror inflicted on civilians. The report adds that it is the duty of security forces to protect civilians not to intimidate or murder them. The report also states that it is equally necessary, as called for by the Security Council, for terrorist action, including the taking of hostages by Kosovar Albanian elements, to cease.

3. The SG's report recommends the following: cessation of violence, the granting of full humanitarian access and the creation of conditions that will enable refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes with confidence that they will not face harassment or worse. However, the SG states that as the United Nations does not have a direct political presence on the ground he does not have the means necessary to provide an independent assessment of compliance with Security Council Resolution 1199, other than on the humanitarian situation. In this regard, the SG reiterated that "the humanitarian crisis is a consequence of what is fundamentally a political problem, which requires a comprehensive political solution through a negotiated settlement."

Internal Displacement

4. The Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM) has reported that the informal truce seems to be holding in Kosovo although there were reportedly several engagements between Serbian police and Kosovo Albanians in some parts of the province in recent days.

5. The overall improvement in security on the ground in Kosovo during the past week has given many displaced living in the open air the opportunity to move into villages in search of shelter. KDOM teams operating in the regions of Pec and Mitrovica reported that they observed very few displaced without shelter in these areas. On 6th October a joint UNHCR / MSF mission to Golubovac in central Kosovo, which came under attack and was emptied in late September, revealed that most of the 1,000 residents of the village had returned. UNHCR estimates that at least 50,000 displaced throughout Kosovo have returned to their home areas although it is known that there are still thousands of people living out in the open air.

UNHCR Estimated Displacement / Refugee Figures: (as at 06 October 1998)

Displacement within Kosovo1 200,000
Displacement into Montenegro2 41,800
Displacement into other parts of Serbia 20,000
Refugees in Bosnia Herzegovina3 6,800
Refugees into Albania4 20,500
Refugees into Turkey5 2,000
Refugees into Slovenia6 2,000
Non-visa guests into FYROM 1,000
TOTAL 294,100

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.
3 UNHCR estimate
4 Figures provided by Albanian Government's Office for Refugees and endorsed by UNHCR..
5 UNHCR estimate.
6 UNHCR estimate.

Relief Operations

6. The threat of NATO air strikes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, coupled with the possibility of subsequent reprisals by the civilian population has prompted many humanitarian organisations to scale back their relief activities in Kosovo and evacuate some of their international personnel. At the time of writing expatriate staff from at least 8 of the 28 international humanitarian organisations with operations in Kosovo have left Pristina.

7. Many humanitarian agencies remaining in Kosovo have reported experiencing easier passage at police checkpoints during the last week. At major checkpoints traffic policemen have replaced police security units although the police have maintained positions in burned-out houses on the side of the roads.

8. On 30th September a worker of the ICRC was killed and 3 others wounded after its vehicle hit a land mine at Gornje Obrinje, which is between Glogovac and Srbica. On 14th September an armoured vehicle of the Canadian Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission also struck a land mine in the area. On 5th October the UNHCR Security Coordinator warned relief workers against the possible presence of landmines in two other parts of Kosovo. These are located in the villages of Gladane, Dolovo, Ceskovo and Kpuz, near the Klina turnoff 5 kilometres South-West of the main Pristina-Pec road and at Sedlare and Krimirovce, 11 kilometres South of Komorane, which is 25 kilometres West of Pristina.

Level of Destruction

9. In his report dated 3rd October, the UN Secretary-General (SG) stated that as of mid-September an estimated 6,000 - 7,000 buildings in 269 villages had been severely damaged or destroyed by shelling and deliberate burning in the Serb forces' main areas of operations. The SG observes that this level of destruction points clearly to an indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against civilian populations.

Relief Distribution

10. On 1st October multi-agency convoys escorted by UNHCR delivered relief supplies for some 40,000 people at Djinov village in Suva Reka and Djakovica. The 14 truck convoy carried family food parcels, high protein biscuits, wheat flour, pasta, used clothes, jerry cans, hygienic parcels and napkins, blankets, soap, detergent and stoves. Participating agencies included Doctors of the World, Children's Aid Direct, Mercy Corps International and Catholic Relief Services.

11. Multi-agency convoys escorted by UNHCR and WFP delivered relief supplies on 3rd October, 1998 to 28,000 people in Decane, Malisevo and Lipljan. The 16 trucks carried high protein biscuits, family food parcels, wheat flour, canned fish, oil, sugar, marmalade, macaroni, plastic sheeting, used clothing, water containers, hygienic parcels, sanitary napkins, stoves, candles and soap. The items came from Children's Aid Direct, Doctors of the World, Mercy Corps International, Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children Fund.

12. On 6th October UNHCR and Mercy Corps International sent relief aid to Klina and Glogovac in central Kosovo for some 40,000 people. The eight trucks, escorted by UNHCR and WFP, carried wheat flour, food packages, baby milk, plastic sheets, blankets and mattresses.

Health

13. UNICEF and Medecins du Monde-France have signed an agreement which outlines their respective roles in the provision of support to the mobile medical teams operated by Mother Theresa Association (MTA), a local NGO.
During the period under review the medical team focused primarily on those suffering the consequences of the recent clashes in the Drenica area. The team visited Kisna Reka, Trdevac and Gornje Obrinje on 30th September and Gradica, Likosane, Cirez and Krasalic on 2nd October. These mobile health teams have assisted more than 780 displaced during the month of October, 70% of whom are children. Diarrhoea and bronchitis were the most frequently diagnosed ailments.

14. The immunisation programme supported by WHO, UNICEF, Mother Theresa Association (MTA) and professionals from state-owned health institutions continued in Istinic in Decani municipality and in Ratkovac in Orahovac municipality during the period under review. In Istinic a total of 375 children were immunised, out of which 36 were newborns.

15. On 2nd October a joint delegation comprising representatives from the Institute of Public Health, WHO, UNICEF visited Prizren and met local health representatives with a view to developing a strategy for the resumption of EPI activity in the area. It was decided to target Suva Reka, Orahovac and Malisevo as these were areas where health services had been most disrupted.

16. On 2nd October WHO, in collaboration with the Institute of Public Health of Serbia, chaired the fortnightly health meeting focusing on medical programmes in Kosovo.

MONTENEGRO

17. In spite of UNHCR's protests the Government of Montenegro has not yet officially rescinded its decision to close the border with Kosovo. This decision is enforced by the police at the entry points along the mountain range of Rozaje and Plav, even though there are unconfirmed reports of an influx of approximately 30 displaced per day from Kosovo into Montenegro. Discussions are ongoing between UNHCR and the Government of Montenegro on the provision of support to the most vulnerable new arrivals.

18. WFP's food stocks in Montenegro have been replenished with the arrival of 770 MT wheat flour in Bar on 5th October. This represents the first tranche of a donation by Germany. The wheat flour will be available for distribution in late October assuming that there are no problems with offloading and customs clearance.

19. UNHCR, Swiss Disaster Relief, World Vision, the Danish Refugee Council and Malteser are coordinating their efforts to provide shelter for Kosovo displaced in the mountainous region of Plav and Rozaje. Several different types of project are under consideration:

a) Renovation of Collective Centres

There are currently some 900 displaced hosted in collective centres and it is expected that the population will increase in the future to some 1,500. SDR is compiling a database with all requests for the rehabilitation of these collective centres.

b) Adaptation of Private houses

Some displaced are being hosted by families in houses which are not fully completed. SDR will implement major structural repairs to houses hosting IDPs on condition that homeowners allow the displaced to remain for one year. This programme may subsequently be expanded to Podgorica and Ulcinj. Summer cottages will be "winterised" through the distribution of plastic sheeting, plywood and other materials and tools.

c) Purchase of Prefabricated huts

In the mountains in the vicinity of Rozaje where many displaced are either living in congested houses or in the open air with their livestock, the possibility of providing wood in order to construct huts is under consideration. This option, which is favoured by the local community, would enable the displaced to survive the Winter without having to move into Rozaje.

20. The Institute of Public Health in Montenegro has reported an increase in diarrhoeal disease and food poisoning among the displaced although there has been no serious outbreak of major infection or disease to date. Medecins du Monde has delivered 800 kg of drugs in an effort to alleviate shortages.

21. There are currently some 12,000 displaced children of school age in Montenegro. The majority of these are not being educated as the Ministry of Education has stated that only first graders or those with regular certificates are allowed to go to school. In many areas first graders do not even go to school as parents are reluctant to allow some children to attend classes while others remain at home. In an attempt to encourage the Ministry of Education to adopt a more flexible attitude UNICEF and UNHCR have offered assistance in the form of the renovation of schools premises and the provision of school materials.

22. According to the Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM) the channels for the transfer of Kosovo refugees to a third country are still active in the Ulcinj. KDOM estimates that approximately 2,000 refugees have moved from Ulcinj to Albania, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ALBANIA

23. According to the Office for Refugees, the Government agency responsible for registering new arrivals, there are currently 20,500 Kosovo refugees in Albania. The majority of the refugees are located in Southern Albania: 7,000 are on the coast in Durres and 6,000 in Tirana. There is also a caseload of 900 in Kukes due to the continuing influx of 50-60 per day from South-West Kosovo. A few isolated cases continue to cross the border from Montenegro. According to the Office for Refugees 15,400 Kosovo refugees are in good health, 4,600 have "general health problems," 47 are disabled and 32 are wounded. WFP reports that the October food aid distribution is underway using two trucks stationed in Tirana provided by the United States.

24. The majority of the Kosovo refugees in Albania are living with host families. It is widely recognised that this arrangement is unacceptable as the capacity of the host population to cope with expanded households is gradually becoming eroded. UNHCR has advocated for some time that the refugees be housed in collective accommodation in suitable locations in central Albania and in coastal areas. A site has been identified in Rogozhina, approximately 60 km from Durres, but Government approval is required before refugees can be moved into this area. It is hoped that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' request for a quick decision on the allocation of land / buildings for new arrivals will be observed despite the disruption caused by the recent change in the Albanian Government.

FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (FYROM)

25. Nothing significant to report.

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