Albania + 3 more

Kosovo Humanitarian Update Issue No. 19

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1. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS
1.1: Festive season passes peacefully: The festive season passed peacefully in Kosovo with few reported incidents and little celebratory fire. Security was stepped up to cover Christmas, the New Year, Bajram and Orthodox Christmas and New Year celebrations with many additional KFOR and UN Police foot patrols.

A special UNHCR busline was organised for the Bajram/Orthodox Christmas weekend between north and south sides of Ibar river in Mitrovica to enable hundreds of Albanians and Serbs to visit their respective grave yards and attend religious services.

1.2: IAC agrees departments: The Interim Administrative Council agreed upon 19 departments that will be co-administered by UNMIK and Kosovo political leaders, on 4 January. The departments are: Budget and Finance; Reconstruction; Trade and Industry; Education and Science; Youth and Sport; Culture; General Telecommunications; Utilities; Health and Social Security; Labour; Agriculture; Environment; Civil Security and Emergency Preparedness; Democratisation; Local Administration; and Non-Residents' Affairs. The departments will be established and become operational during the next few weeks.

As yet a representative of the Serb community has not taken up their seat on the council and therefore are not represented in any of the departments. Dr. Kouchner, SRSG, has reiterated his call for the participation of the Serb minority in the IAC.

1.3: Pristina airport reopens: Slatina airport reopened to civilian traffic, 11 January, having been closed since the crash of a World Food Programme plane in November 1999.

The reopening of the airport will enable the resumption of aid directly into Kosovo, thereby relieving some of the pressure on the Blace border point with FYRoM. In addition, commercial flights are also possible. The first commercial flight to land was an Albanian Airline plane on 11 January.

Slatina airport remains strictly open for daytime visual flights only and will continue to be managed by KFOR. This means the pilot has to be able to see the runway to land. The airport's current capacity is 14 flights daily. Initial plans enable two commercial flights daily and four on Saturdays and Sundays. Priority for flights into Kosovo in descending order is: medevac, military, humanitarian and commercial. IOM flights to returning refugees to Kosovo are due to resume on 18 January.

1.4 WFP resumes flights to Pristina: The WFP passenger plane will resume flights to Pristina on 19 January. The 17-seater plane will fly weekdays, Rome-Pristina-Rome. Seats need to be booked two days in advance at the WFP office.
(For further information about flight times and the booking schedule call WFP on 038-543-451/2 or 063-446-254)

1.5 Vehicle registration to resume end January: UNMIK registration of vehicles began in Pristina, on 30 November. At the end of the year, and with over 3,000 vehicles registered in Pristina, the registration center was closed for the holiday season. The registration center will reopen late in January. UNMIK is currently assessing the registration process so far and working with UNMIK customs concerning the importation of vehicles and registration processes. Once registration resumes, six regional registration centres are planned to be opened.

As yet, UNMIK has not recognised any Kosovo insurance companies. However, Pillar II, Civil Administration, is working with national companies to help them meet the minimum standards required to obtain recognition by UNMIK. In the meantime, UNMIK has prepared an open letter, which outlines that those entering Kosovo cannot be forced to purchase vehicle insurance on entry. Copies of the letter are available from Russell Baggerly at UNMIK and the Humanitarian Community Information Centre, Pristina

1.6 NGO registration & public benefit status certificates issued: UNMIK registration of NGOs in Kosovo, which began on 29 November, is also progressing and the first certificates have been issued. To date, some 50 international NGOs have received certification almost all of who applied for and have received public benefit status. Although there is currently no deadline for NGO registration, UNMIK customs have announced that they will begin to levy customs duties on NGOs and other agencies that do not have public benefit status in mid-February. Those who have not registered to date are encouraged to do so.

Some 65 national NGOs have applied for registration with UNMIK and their applications are being processed. OSCE continues to facilitate the development of organisational capacity within national NGOs. Two-day training sessions, including NGO statutes, public benefit status, accounting procedures and staff employment are organised through the OSCE and the Not-for-Profit Law Centre for the latter half of January. The courses will take place in Pristina, Gnjilan, Pec, Prizren, Djakovica and Mitrovica. Those wishing to register for the courses requiring additional information should contact Richard Chambers, OSCE, 500-162, extension 282.

OSCE is the lead agency for building capacity of national NGOs but the registration of all NGOs remains the responsibility of UNMIK. Forms and guidelines for registration are available from the UNMIK NGO Liaison Unit (Room N408 at the UNMIK Government Building; tel: 500-223 ext. 5540) and from the Humanitarian Community Information Centre in Pristina. NGOs based outside of Pristina can obtain forms and information at UNMIK regional centers located in Mitrovica, Pec, Djakovica, and Prizren.

HCIC Kosovo Database CD now available

The HCIC Kosovo Database CD, Version 1 is now available. The CD includes the Rapid Village Assessment database and a data viewer. This package allows the user to create customized reports using data collected in Kosovo from June through September of 1999. Additionally, the CD includes a number of reports and data sets.

The HCIC and UNHCR GIS units worked together to produce an Atlas of Kosovo that is included on the CD. The OSCE Human Rights report, Security Resolution 1244 and other 1999 UN reports on Kosovo, the WFP Food Aid Tracking System, UNICEF status of schools and WHO status of health facilities are just a few of the reports available.

If you are interested in learning more about the CD or in obtaining a copy, please stop by the HCIC.

2. SECURITY

2.1 Rise in tension in Prizren: The two weeks over the New Year period, saw an increase in tensions in the Prizren area. Four Bosnian Muslims were killed, seven vacant Serb houses were burnt and four elderly Serbs were evicted. Similarly, two recently vacated Serb houses in Vuciturn were destroyed by anti-tank landmine explosions.

2.2 Borders with FYRoM closed temporarily: The Kosovo/FYRoM borders were temporarily closed on 12/13 January following the fatal shooting of three Macedonian police officers and wounding of a fourth in Haraqin near the Tetova border crossing. The police officers were checking vehicle documentation on vehicles arriving from Kosovo when they were attacked. A number of vehicle checkpoints were immediately established in FYRoM near to the border with Kosovo.

  • KFOR conducts Vehicle Checkpoints (VCPs) throughout Kosovo. The use of VCPs is random in order to disrupt illegal activity and control the flow of traffic in a specific area. You are advised to cooperate fully with the VCP by identifying yourself and explaining the nature of your business in the area.
  • When travelling within the region, it is advisable to coordinate with local CIMIC centres concerning road conditions and the locations of landmines/UXO. Always report mine/UXO sightings to local CIMIC centers.
3. REPATRIATION

3.1 Repatriation resumes: Host countries agreed to suspend IOM-organised flights to Kosovo between 17 December and 10 January. During this period only one flight arrived in Skopje from Slovenia on 23 December.

Organised repatriation flights to Skopje resumed with a flight of 144 Kosovars from Switzerland on 10 January. Since then flights have also been organised by Germany and the Netherlands returning a 1,000 Kosovars from third countries. Various governments have informed UNHCR that over 5,000 refugees will be repatriated during the next month in organised returns. An estimated 1,200 refugees will return directly on flights arriving in Pristina airport.

Organised Returns as of 13 January
From
Total organised return
Albania
12,932
FYRoM
5,528
Montenegro
3,311
Third countries*
103,469
TOTAL
125,240

*The number includes non-HEP.
Source: UNHCR

IOM flights into Pristina airport will begin on 18 January with a flight from Germany. As can be noted from the table above, over 125,000 refugees have returned to Kosovo since mid-June 1999. The majority of returning refugees have some contact with their families before they travel whilst others have benefited from the 'go and see' visits organised by a number of host governments.

4. PROTECTION

4.1 MINORITY ISSUES

4.1.1 New UNHCR busline established: A new busline was established between Orahovac and Mitrovica. More than 80 people used the new bus route in the first two days of operation. Like the other seven UNHCR buslines, this new one is operated with DRC drivers and has a KFOR escort. Other lines operate in Gnjilan, Pristina and Mitrovica. The buslines help facilitate the freedom of movement for minorities in Kosovo. In addition a special busline was operational in Mitrovica during Bajram/Orthodox Christmas. (See 1.1 for further details.)

4.2 GENDER ISSUES

4.2.1 Domestic violence: Domestic violence is an issue of increasing concern for many people working in Kosovo. A number of international and local organisations are already planning or carrying out assessments and looking at ways to address the issue. In the next 2 weeks, the Protection Working Group will be setting up a Subgroup on Domestic Violence to co-ordinate the information-gathering process and plan for future initiatives. Agencies involved in the area of domestic violence and wishing to participate in the group should contact Paul Currion, at the Humanitarian Community Information Centre (Tel: 038 549 169, e-mail NGO-Council-Kosovo@excite.com).

5. SECTORAL ACTIVITIES

5.1 FOOD

5.1.1 Distributions ongoing: The distribution of basic food continues to some 50 percent of the population in Kosovo. Prior to the end of 1999 four-month food rations were pre-positioned in 262 villages that were likely to become inaccessible during winter.

In December over 17,500 MT of food was distributed in Kosovo by WFP, MCI, CRS and other agencies. The cumulative total of food aid distributed in Kosovo, mid-June to December 1999, is 111,779 MT.

The institutional feeding programme continues. WFP, CRS and MCI cover over 5,000 beneficiaries in 12 institutions in Kosovo with some 37,000 MT of food monthly. The institutional feeding programme began in September 1999 and the cumulative total of distributions, September - December 1999 is 142,500 MT. (Further details are available from the WFP Food Aid Tracking System. You can obtain copies from WFP offices or by emailing WFP.FATS@WFP.org)

5.2 HEALTH

5.2.1 New watch on infectious diseases: A new epidemiological survey system went into operation 1 January 2000 following training during December. The KO-SURV is a streamlined system of routine reporting developed by WHO and Institute of Public Health. It now replaces the NGO-based emergency reporting system that has provided crucial early warning of infectious diseases since its instigation in June. NGOs will continue to play a vital role in the surveying of infectious diseases through the new system.

5.2.2 Healthy eating: Studies in Kosovo have revealed high levels of anaemia among mothers and young children. WHO have recently released a report 'Food Box and Feeding Recommendations for Kosovo' which promotes good nutritional habits. The 60-page report by WHO nutrition specialists contains in depth analysis of current nutrition patterns in Albanian, Serb and Roma communities and detailed recommendations for enhancing nutritional intake based on locally available foods.

5.2.3 Strategies to lower infant deaths: A four-day international course in Essential New Born Car and Breastfeeding started on 12 January under the auspices of WHO. The course addresses safer methods of delivery and care in the first few hours of life, both of which can lower the high infant death rate in Kosovo. Kosovo's infant mortality rate is 50 per 1,000 births, the majority within the first week of life (source WHO). The course will also be conducted in Albanian in each of the six hospitals in Kosovo.

KPC offer to support the reconstruction process in Kosovo

In February 2000, the permanent members of the Kosovo Protection Force (KPC) will be decided and they will begin to receive salaries from UNMIK. There will be a total of 3,000 active members of the KPC and 2,000 reserve. One of the mandates of the KPC is the reconstruction of Kosovo. From February, members of the KPC will be available to provide human resources to agencies carrying out reconstruction programmes in Kosovo. KFOR in Pristina will be responsible for the allocation of KPC personnel. At a later date, once communications networks are established, requests will be possible in all the regions.

Agencies who wish to utilise the scheme should contact Peter Moitzi at the Humanitarian Community Information Centre.
Tel 038-549-168/9

5.3 SHELTER

5.3.1 Update on shelter distribution: The majority of emergency shelter programmes have concluded. Some programmes have been extended to the end of January 2000 due to increases in the allocation of materials. Materials to improve the living conditions in all-season tents have been distributed throughout Kosovo. Materials include wooden boards, insulation materials for floors and additional tent side supports. All-season tents only represent emergency shelter and the majority of those in use are for families with Category V housing who wish to remain on their property.

5.3.2 USAID emergency kits: USAID have stocks of roofing and dry room materials in stock in their Urosevac warehouse. The materials are available to agencies wishing to support families who have not yet benefited from shelter programmes and thereby plug any gaps.

5.3.3 Shift from shelter to reconstruction: With the arrival of winter and conclusion of the main shelter programmes, plans are underway to shift to the new phase of reconstruction in the spring. UNMIK have established a working group for the reconstruction of houses in Kosovo, which will meet for the first time on 15 January. The group will determine the framework for house reconstruction and will address issues such as: targeting of vulnerable people/communities, setting basic standards for reconstruction, implementation strategies and co-ordination mechanisms and the role of municipal administrations. Longer-term issues that need to be discussed include: regulations relating to the property market, financial plans for mortgages and urban planning.

5.4 WINTERISATION

5.4.1 Update on utilities: Despite extensive work on Kosovo's two power plants, there continue to be problems in the delivery of electricity. Kosovo B has not been operational following fires at both units during the last few weeks. Repairs are being conducted on one unit and assessments are underway on the second, which sustained damages from a fire 9-10 January in which some 14 people were injured. In the meantime, Kosovo is reliant on one operational unit in Kosovo A and electricity imported from neighbouring Albania, FYRoM and Serbia.

To better inform the public on the status of the utilities, daily radio announcements began on Kosovo Radio at 08.30 on 10 January. In addition, UNMIK has established a Utilities Emergency Task Force (UETF), which comprises UNMIK, UNHCR, EU and KFOR representatives.

The electricity situation in Kosovo is far from comfortable, but at present there is no humanitarian crisis. Nonetheless, UNHCR has identified winter relief items that could be diverted to those in need should there be a protracted period of power shortages. The UETF is also identifying day centres that could offer a warm dry venue for vulnerably housed people if the situation deteriorates further.

5.5 MINE ACTION

5.7.1 Winter break: Mines clearance stopped in December due to the weather and will resume in the spring. Six mines clearance organisations remain in Kosovo and maintain a rapid response element. Once the weather permits work to assist the power companies and clearance of transmission lines will continue.

Similarly, many mines awareness programmes are due to resume over the coming weeks. Mines awareness messages are placed on local radio and in publications. As of April 2000, UNMACC and associated organisations with mines awareness education (MAE) programmes will become responsible for MAE as KFOR withdraws from this area.

5.5.2 Mines Awareness Database: The Mines Awareness Database has now been installed and is functioning well. The IMSMA database is operational in the Regional Information Offices. It is a read-only database, which is updated by UNMACC. UNMACC is currently looking at improving the quality of incoming data.

Winter conditions present new mine/UXO related challenges

As we are in the winter period, it is important to understand the effect snow and ice has on mines/UXO. Although mine clearance organisations are working to strengthen the minefield marking systems for the winter, one should be aware that snow can obstruct or hide marking tape and fencing. It is therefore even more important to be aware of dangerous areas. UNMACC also stresses that mines and UXO will still explode when covered by snow or ice. Moreover, heavy snowfall can have an effect on trip-wire operated mines.

Please note that the latest mine maps and information on mines/UXO is available from local CIMIC centers.

5.6 EDUCATION

5.6.1Firewood for schools: UNICEF and associated NGOs are providing additional firewood to more than 600 schools during the winter months. Local companies have been contracted to provide the additional 20,000 cubic metres of firewood. Over the next three months an average of three cubic metres per classroom will be distributed.

5.6.2 Repair of schools: UNICEF report that 361 schools have had repairs completed in Kosovo, with a further 279 schools in the process of repair. A total of 850 school buildings have been committed for repairs throughout the Province.

It is estimated that there are 134 Category V schools requiring reconstruction. The ICRC has a schools reconstruction programme for some 45 schools. To date, more than 20 have been completed and 14 are currently under reconstruction. The ICRC programme utilises local commercial companies for reconstruction wherever possible.

Please note the following contact information for the Humanitarian Community Information Centre (HCIC) in Pristina:

Telephone/Fax: 501 507 or 549 168/69
Email: yughcic@unhcr.ch or
hcic@hotmail.com

6. FOCUS: Appropriate care for children in Kosovo

By UNICEF

In this focus, UNICEF outlines their policy relating to orphanages.

There have recently been a number of, no doubt well-intentioned, efforts to raise money for the building of orphanages in Kosovo. These efforts are founded on two premises, neither of which is true. The first premise is that orphanages are a good way to deal with orphaned children, and the second is that there is a large caseload of children in Kosovo who have been abandoned, or who are alone because both parents were killed or died, and whose relatives are unable or unwilling to care for them.

To deal with the second, and perhaps most obvious point, first: There is only a small caseload of children who are not being cared for by their families in Kosovo. In fact, at less than twenty, in relative terms the number is far less than the caseloads of Western European countries and the USA. With its tradition of the extended family in Kosovo, a place in the child's family can usually be found - an aunt or uncle, a second cousin, or a grandparent.

There are currently twelve children being well cared for in Pristina hospital, in the pediatric and maternity wards. The twelve children represent a caseload stretching back two years (the process of adoption and fostering having been interrupted by the conflict).

UNICEF and the Save the Children Alliance monitor the children at Pristina hospital on a weekly basis. The Alliance has funded dedicated care-providers who are with the children each day.

The caseload has been gradually reduced, as national foster families have been found, or the children have been adopted successfully. UNICEF has supported the seminal Social Welfare Centre in its efforts to find families willing to adopt these children. Three months ago there were 34 children at the hospital, 20 of whom have now been placed in families.

In time, it is hoped that all the children in Pristina hospital will find a family, which will raise them with the attention, love, and consistency that a child needs.

Now to the first premise, that an orphanage is an appropriate place for a child to be cared for by society. It is not. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child is very explicit about the centrality of the family to a child's upbringing. To opt for orphanages in circumstances where alternative solutions exist and have been successfully used, is therefore widely regarded as inappropriate.

Additionally, there are benefits to orphanages which are not enjoyed by the children, and which have nothing to do with children. Orphanages create employment, attract publicity for organisations, and attract donor funding based on the emotive issue of "abandoned children."

Any child left "abandoned" in Kosovo stands a better chance of being fostered or adopted than those left in similar circumstances in most other places. The small number of children in this position are being amply cared-for by UNICEF, the Save the Children Alliance, and the Centre for Social Welfare. UNICEF therefore requests that agencies direct their attention and funding to other areas of support relating to children and do not establish the first orphanages in Kosovo.

For comments and further information, please contact:

Tanya Power Stevens,
Office of the United Nations,
Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Humanitarian Affairs in Kosovo.

Phone +381-38-501-507 or 549-168/9

Fax +871-761-843-891

This report is available from the HCIC in Pristina or through the internet at http://www.relief

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