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UNHCR Briefing Notes: Kosovo

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News and Press Release
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Posted
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This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson, Judith Kumin, at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations.
1. Funding for Kosovo operation

UNHCR has spent all the cash it had available for the Kosovo emergency operation, and is asking for a new infusion of funds immediately. UNHCR had appealed for funds as part of a series of consolidated appeals issued by all UN agencies and the IOM.

UNHCR had asked for a total of $143 million for its operation on behalf of refugees and displaced from Kosovo, for the period through 30 June ($106.6 million from the special Donor Alerts and $36.4 million for Kosovo from the Consolidated Appeal issued end 1998). So far just under half of that amount, or $71 million, has been received in the form of new contributions, but it has all been spent or fully committed, together with $6 million remaining from 1998 funds. The biggest governmental donor to date is Japan ($23.1 million), followed by the USA ($8.5 million), Denmark and the Netherlands ($3.4 million each), Canada and Switzerland ($3.3 million each). Private donors in Italy have contributed the remarkable sum of $8.7 million. The High Commissioner is appealing especially to European donor countries and to the European Commission to support UNHCR's operation. A press release on this subject is available.

2. Albania/FYR of Macedonia

There were over 3,600 new arrivals from Kosovo in northern Albania on Monday (10 May) while for the fifth day running, virtually no refugees crossed into the FYR of Macedonia. The last significant arrivals in the FYR of Macedonia were on Wednesday 5 May. On that date, 2,000 refugees arrived in the afternoon and another 1,000 in evening, but who were not permitted to enter.

In a bizarre twist, however, trains continue to arrive at Blace, at the border between Kosovo and the FYR of Macedonia, carrying a few hundred people each time. A train arrived on Sunday and again on Monday. These trains let off just a few people and then travel back into Kosovo full. One of the handful of people let off yesterday said that people who were sent back also had to pay for
the return trip.

UNHCR's humanitarian evacuation program from the FYR of Macedonia yesterday brought refugees for the first time to Albania. Buses carried 139 refugees who volunteered for transfer to Albania. All had family members in Albania whom they wanted to join. The buses took them initially to a camp at Qatrum, near Korca. UNHCR staff in the FYR of Macedonia are planning to take refugee leaders from the camps in the FYR of Macedonia on "look and see" visits to Albania.

In Albania: UNHCR is redoubling its efforts to persuade refugees staying in the Kukes area of northern Albania to move to other parts of the country. An information campaign will fan out to all camps, explaining once again to the refugees that this area is not considered safe, and that arrangements to receive them in other parts of he country are in place. UNHCR hopes that large scale movements out of the Kukes camps to safer and more accessible parts of the country will start by the end of this week.

3. Refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Yesterday UNHCR sent to governments a detailed position paper on categories of refugees remaining from the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are still in need of international protection. The main categories of Bosnian refugees whom UNHCR considers still to be in need of protection are persons originating from areas where they would no longer belong to the majority ethnic group on return, ex-detainees and persons who were victims of violence and serious trauma, and persons of mixed ethnicity or living in mixed marriages.

This document is intended for public information purposes only. It is not an official UN document.