Albania + 5 more

Southeastern Europe: UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal for Children and Women: Jan-Dec 2000



  • During March-June 1999 NATO operations, over a million people fled homes, of which some 800,000 ethnic Albanians took refuge in neighbouring countries
  • Influx of 450,000 refugees in Albania
  • Mass expulsions and displacement bore great human costs, loss of life, family separation and widespread trauma
  • In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), GDP fell roughly to the level of 1970
  • Some 45 per cent of all primary school buildings have been destroyed, an estimated quarter of the immunization centres damaged
  • By the end of November, more than 810,000 refugees returned to Kosovo
  • Fewer than 75,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain in neighbouring countries
  • Many areas in Kosovo remain heavily mined, particularly in the southwest; an estimated average of five mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) accidents occur every day following return of refugees
  • By the end of November, 200,000 non-ethnic Albanians fled Kosovo, mainly to other parts of Serbia and to Montenegro
  • Situation of Serbs, Roma and other ethnic minorities remains precarious


For year 2000, UNICEF is appealing for $65 million. Guided by a holistic approach that combines humanitarian assistance with long-term development objectives, UNICEF will provide for the humanitarian needs of children and women, as well as continue the ongoing effort to rehabilitate national capacities to provide for social services. UNICEF's presence in the area before, during and after the Kosovo crisis in 1999 represents a unique advantage in the development of sustainable post-crisis programmes. Based within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), UNICEF interventions will:

  • Promote the rights and protection of all children, paying particular attention to minority groups;
  • Support the establishment of civil administration structures and the formulation of policy in health, education and social welfare;
  • Continue to play a leading role in primary education and mine and UXO awareness education;
  • Promote preventive health care and nutrition guidance, and reinforce immunization activities;
  • Restore and rehabilitate basic infrastructure, including winterization efforts in the coming months;
  • Foster integration and multiethnic tolerance.


Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - excluding Kosovo
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - UN-administered province of Kosovo
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Area coordination, advocacy, information and media


Years of civil disruptions and war in Southeastern Europe, an area affected by repression, violence, displacement and economic recession, escalated in 1998. By March 1999, some 315,000 persons were internally displaced in FRY, with the majority displaced in Kosovo. A further 45,000 sought refuge in neighbouring countries. The result of the collapse of the Rambouillet-Paris peace talks in late March were far worse than anticipated.

The outbreak of conflict in Kosovo in March 1999 and ensuing NATO operations in FRY were followed by massive population movements within FRY and to neighbouring countries. Over a million people fled their homes, of which some 800,000 ethnic Albanians took refuge in countries close to Kosovo, including Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro (Yugoslavia). In Kosovo, the conflict forced people to isolated mountainous areas without shelter, food and basic survival supplies. An additional 60,000 were internally displaced in Central Serbia and Vojvodina, where military operations disrupted health, education and social services and jeopardized the rights of Yugoslav children. The majority of the affected population are children and women, many of whom have been uprooted several times during the past year. UNICEF estimates that several million children in the region have been affected and require assistance.

The war and resulting refugee crisis also created an adverse impact on countries receiving refugees. The influx of more than 450,000 people in Albania, the poorest country in Europe, severely disrupted the already vulnerable communities. Local infrastructures, especially health and education systems, and social services were severely overburdened by the massive refugee caseload.

Within days of the signing of the peace agreement between NATO and the Yugoslav Army on 9 June 1999, refugees began their journey home. By October, over 810,000 people had returned to Kosovo in one of the fastest spontaneous repatriations ever seen. At the same time, approximately 200,000 people had left Kosovo for Central Serbia, Vojvodina and Montenegro, representing the majority of non-ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Much of the area affected by the Kosovo crisis remains volatile. Ethnic and political tensions remain high and are further exacerbated by the declining post-war economies, challenging emergency relief efforts as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.


During the refugee exodus from the province of Kosovo in March-June 1999, UNICEF's programmes focused on refugee and internally displaced children and women in camps, collective centres and host families, while strengthening social-sector infrastructure and services in areas receiving refugees. UNICEF promoted the creation of child-friendly environments, providing space and facilities for children's educational, recreational and psychosocial activities and services, and supported health care. Simultaneously, UNICEF provided support for local services aimed at mitigating the effects of the refugee influx on the already vulnerable local communities. UNICEF also provided humanitarian activities in Kosovo subsequent to the refugees returning, and established stockpiles of relief supplies, vehicles and office and communications equipment.

In the early stage of the post-crisis recovery in Kosovo, UNICEF has adopted a two-pronged approach. Essential and life-saving relief assistance is being provided to children and women while the rehabilitation and reactivation of basic health, education and social services is also being supported. In areas hosting refugees and IDPs, UNICEF continues to provide relief aid, educational supplies, psychosocial services and health care to children and women. UNICEF is also responding to the needs of those who have not fled their homes but have been adversely affected by the conflict. UNICEF has played a leading role in developing and implementing strategies and programmes for primary education and mine and UXO awareness education. UNICEF has fostered close partnerships with government counterparts, local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and bilateral and multilateral organizations to provide a comprehensive package of services that ensure children and women's rights.


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