1. Reports from humanitarian agencies during the period under review indicate that displaced are continuing to return to their home areas. In Lapusnik it is estimated that more than a third of its 3,000 residents have returned home. The majority of the returnees to this area came from major towns such as Pristina, Mitrovica and Vucitrn where accommodation has become much more expensive due to the cost of heating fuel. More than 1,300 of the 6,000 residents in Junik have also reportedly returned in spite of the village's proximity to the Albanian border. Among the returnees were two busloads of about 100 displaced from Ulcinj in Montenegro.
2. In Komorane, 25 km West of Pristina, approximately half of the 3,300 residents are believed to have returned. On 11 December a group of 16 heads of displaced families were escorted to their damaged homes in Lodza village in Pec municipality following negotiations between the municipality police authorities, UNHCR and the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM). This constituted a significant breakthrough gven the extreme reluctance of the displaced to return to this area to date. The returnees started work to repair the school, which will be used as collective accommodation while they repair their own homes. They return to their families in Pec at night.
3. From 4-11 December UNHCR escorted interagency convoys that delivered relief supplies to some 40,000 displaced, returnees and host families in the municipalities of Srbica, Podujevo, Klina, Djakovica, Pec, Prizren and Decane. Agencies contributing supplies include UNHCR, WFP, Mercy Corps International, Catholic Relief Services, Children's Aid Direct and Doctors of the World.
4. The decentralisation of relief deliveries started at the beginning of December in Pec municipality, with convoys running from the town of Pec to nearby villages and remote areas in the municipalites of Decane and Klina. In this area convoy movements are being closely coordinated between Mercy Corps International, UNHCR, WFP, ICRC and MSF. During the week beginning 14 December the second distribution hub will start functioning in Prizren when convoys will deliver food on a daily basis from the warehouse managed by CRS to different locations in Orahovac municipality. It is intended that the third distribution point will be in Mitrovica.
5. On 11 December 6 four-wheel drive trucks from the Danish Refugee Council arrived in Pristina bringing to 12 the number of small trucks UNHCR will use to send relief aid to remote mountain villages.
6. On 3 and 4 December at least 12 people were killed in encounters between the KLA and security forces in Pristina, Prizren and Pec. Another person was killed and 5 wounded in a shooting at the hospital in Pec on 4 December. These incidents constitute the heaviest loss of life since the cease-fire came into effect in mid-October. Since these incidents occurred the UNHCR Field Staff Safety adviser has received increasing numbers of security-related enquiries from relief agencies prior to field trips. Mine awareness has also continued with briefings being given to MSF and Medecins du Monde during the period under review.
7. Recent reports of a serious shortage of food in Kosovo and Montenegro are misleading. Donors have been very responsive to the food component of the UN Consolidated Interagency Appeal for Kosovo, which was launched in September 1998, through which WFP received pledges for 48,000 MT of food aid. Food has also been channelled through ICRC, IFRC, UNHCR, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps International, Children's Aid Direct, Doctors of the World and Islamic Relief Services. It is normal for food to take three months between a pledge being confirmed by a donor and the food being delivered into the hands of a beneficiary.
8. In Kosovo, the recent lull in WFP and NGO food aid deliveries has been addressed by ICRC. Based on contingency plans previously developed with WFP, ICRC has been delivering 60 MT of food daily, thus ensuring that the most vulnerable receive assistance. On 10 December, 288 MT of (WFP) wheat flour and 66 MT of (MCI) oil was transported from Bar in Montenegro to Pristina for immediate distribution.
9. Additional stocks are currently in Bar awaiting customs and sanitary clearance, a process which takes up to 15 days. WFP has 5,000 MT of wheat grain, which will be milled in Pristina and Podgorica. CRS has 3,191 MT of wheat flour and a further 1,198 MT of wheat flour is expected 11 December. MCI has 2,130 MT of wheat flour. In January 1999, WFP is expecting a further 24,266 MT of food aid to assist refugees and displaced from Kosovo.
10. In Montenegro, co-ordination among agencies (WFP, UNHCR, ICRC, CRS and MCI) will ensure full food distributions (wheat flour, oil, pasta, sugar, salt and yeast) to 34,380 displaced in December. In November, ICRC released 136 MT of food to supplement existing stocks, thus allowing the food needs of approximately 32,000 to be met. Other humanitarian agencies agreed not to conduct a general food distribution during November since the Montenegrin Red Cross was unable to provide documentation for any previous distributions and stock balances. Such documentation is necessary for agencies to plan future distributions and be accountable both to donors and beneficiaries.
11. Some returnees are now doing major repairs on their houses and are not content with just one winter-proof room. At least 450 houses are undergoing repairs in 31 villages, using heavy duty tarpaulin, wooden beams and fillets, battens for window and door frames, boards, nails and tools provided by humanitarian agencies. UNHCR has also distributed 4,500 shelter kits for minor repairs. UN agencies and NGOs are now conducting the second phase of a shelter survey in about 500 villages that were not covered during the first census which took place from 2-4 November. Preliminary findings are expected by the end of 1999.
12. Residents of Kisna Reka village are struggling to resume normal life since they abandoned makeshift encampments in the nearby Berisa mountains more than a month ago. The 1,300 residents of Kisna Reka were among some 3,500 people who had lived under plastic for months in the nearby hills and were the last group of people under plastic to abandon their tents to seek warmer shelters due to the onset of winter. UNHCR and other aid agencies are helping to rebuild 70 severely damaged houses in Kisna Reka. UNHCR is providing material to enable families to repair roofing. Other agencies are helping supply windows and doors.
13. The availability of primary health care facilities is an important element in facilitating the return of the displaced to their home areas. WHO is currently conducting a 10 day assessment of the condition of primary health care facilities throughout Kosovo. Recommendations will be made with regard to building construction needs, water and sanitation and primary health care facilities. UNICEF continues to support mobile medical teams which give consultations to villages where health facilities do not yet function. Heath teams are now regularly visiting villages in Orahovac, Suva Reka and Glogovac municipalities.
14. Efforts to consolidate the inter-ethnic collaboration recently demonstrated in the poliomyletis vaccination campaign continue. From 8-10 December WHO organised a workshop entitled Basic Epidemiology in Emergencies for staff of the Institute of Public Health in Kosovo. The group was given lectures and practised joint investigation of the most frequently recorded communicable diseases in Kosovo. The group agreed on the importance of providing information on communicable diseases discovered in rural areas to WHO to facilitate planning and improve the public health situation in Kosovo.
15. Health facilities in Malisevo town are not yet functioning even though several people have returned to villages in the vicinity of the town. UNICEF is currently organising outreach immunisation services from Suva Reka and Orahovac for the returnees living in the villages near Malisevo.
16. Preparations for the nutritional survey planned by UNICEF, ACF and MCI continue. Survey monitors have been recruited and the training on data collection methodology started on 8 December. Data collection is expected to take 10 days starting on 14 December.
17. UNHCR and UNICEF are currently co-chairing a Community Services Task Force meeting which takes place every two weeks in Kosovo. The meeting is usually attended by approximately 12 different humanitarian organisations and targets the following areas:
Implemented by the Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS), this programme provides activities such as English classes, art, theatre, games and sport primarily for children and the elderly. Originally targeting refugees, the programme has been expanded to include displaced.
Oxfam is creating opportunities for displaced women by providing support to two women centres in Vitina and Pristina and creating employment opportunities for them.
Handicap International and Oxfam are both implementing programmes for disabled displaced and refugees in Kosovo. Handicap International is primarily involved in the delivery of orthopaedic materials while Oxfam is helping to build capacity and create durable solutions for the displaced. Both organisations work closely with local organisations for the disabled. SCF(UK) is providing material assistance to children and their families and it has recently opened two toy libraries in the centres for the disabled in Pristina and Mitrovica.
UNICEF and UNHCR are planning to implement and distribute educational materials for the displaced and refugees in Kosovo through Children's Aid Direct. UNICEF has already started to distribute classroom kits to 4 state schools and 16 Albanian parallel schools in war-affected areas of central Kosovo, where children have resumed school activities after several months of disruption. UNICEF has also visited Ljubizda village to determine whether schools are functional in this area.
18. A four day training session on the psychosocial programme Smilekeepers was held by UNICEF for care providers of the Local Association of Paraplegics during the past week. The Local Association of Paraplegics has six community centres in Kosovo where local volunteers provide assistance to disabled children.
19. A survey by Care International revealed there are some 6,000 refugees, mainly from Krajina, in collective centres in Kosovo. Another 2,000 refugees, mostly from Bosnia, are staying with host families.
20. Pending the completion of the registration exercise UNHCR estimates that there are 25,000 displaced from Kosovo still in Montenegro. It is estimated that a total of 5,000 displaced have returned since September 1998, 1,200 of whom had left the mountain villages near Plav and Rozaje. Local sources in Ulcinj estimate that about 5,000 people from Kosovo had departed for Western Europe, mainly Germany and Switzerland, primarily through Albania.
21. A combination of deteriorating security and winter weather prompted the Albanian Office of Refugees to request that UNHCR assist the refugees from Kosovo to relocate from Bajram Curri to other parts of Albania. Since the exercise started on 22 November approximately 400 refugees have relocated, primarily to Durres, Shkodra and Tirana in the Western part of the country. Many other refugees from Kosovo have moved on their own accord. As at 11 December there are approximately 350 refugees in Bajram Curri, most of whom have opted to remain there. The Office for Refugees of the Government of Albania has started a re-registration of refugees from Kosovo with the support of UNHCR, the Albanian Red Cross and other NGOs to facilitate improved targeting of relief assistance.
22. WFP is currently providing food aid to some 12,000 Kosovo refugees in Albania, 3,500 of whom are in Durres. December distributions consisting of 162 MT wheat flour, 11 MT oil and 14.15 MT pulses will be finalised by 11 December. The total beneficiary caseload is 23,000-24,000. IFRC will cover the majority of the remaining half, with smaller contributions from the Islamic Coordinating Council and CRS. WFP's share of the beneficiary caseload is likely to increase to 15,000 in 1999.
23. UNHCR has signed an agreement with the International Medical Centre (IMC), a local NGO, to strengthen primary health care and to establish mobile teams at designated reception, transit and collective sites. IMC is currently operational in Kukes / Has and will provide health support and essential health services to refugees in the remote villages.
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA (FYROM)
24. As at 10 December the Macedonian Red Cross (MRC) has registered 858 people affected by the conflict in Kosovo. The number of vulnerable families requesting assistance from Red Cross branches in FYROM continued to increase during the first two weeks of December. The relief programme continues. The health scheme is functioning; IFRC food stocks will be distributed in accordance with the pre-arranged WFP guidelines; UNHCR has channelled some 300 blankets through the MRC; CRS and MRC are planning to start a firewood programme; and UNICEF will donate to the MRC high energy biscuits to be included in the monthly rations for families with young children.
For information, please contact:
Fernando del Mundo, UNHCR Pristina Tel:
David Carden (OCHA), UNHCR Belgrade