Albania + 4 more

UNHCR Kosovo Crisis Update: 10 May 1999

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


Note: the text below is currently published daily, while the figures in the "Displacement
Statistics" table are updated as they are confirmed
AT A GLANCE

  • More than 15,000 refugees swept into northern Albania over the weekend, saying Serbian forces have mounted a new wave of ethnic cleansing in western Kosovo.
  • A total of 220 people crossed the border into the FYR of Macedonia on Sunday; arrivals down to a trickle despite assurances by the Skopje government that the borders will be open to refugees.
  • Departures under the humanitarian evacuation program in the FYR of Macedonia Sunday were 1,015, bringing the total to about 36,000.
  • The estimated number of refugees and displaced people has reached more than 745,000, including 241,000 in the FYR of Macedonia, 422,000 in Albania and 63,000 in Montenegro.

Major Developments

ALBANIA

In a daylong procession of dozens of tractor trailers, a total of 7,677 people crossed the Morini border into Albania Sunday.

It was a virtual repeat performance of Saturday when more than 8,000 fled to safety.

On both days, the bulk of the arrivals were from villages around the Pec area in western Kosovo, and Istok to the northeast.

Most of the arrivals Sunday appeared to be part of the same group of refugees who had arrived Saturday and had been forced out of the region by a large-scale Serbian offensive to clear the region. Many of the refugees had fled from their original villages and spent anywhere from one week to one month in the surrounding mountainous countryside.

Some reported they had not eaten anything substantial for three days and food was running low everywhere though there were few signs of any serious malnutrition among the latest arrivals.

The refugees Sunday told consistent stories of houses being torched and men being taken – either singly or in small groups from tractors fleeing the region, or in larger groups from villages in the area. Refugees said these groups varied in size from 20-30 to up to 200.

A village called Zac, several kilometers from Istok, was repeatedly mentioned by arriving refugees who said many men, perhaps several hundred, had been taken there by Serbian forces. Pistols and other small arms were brandished in the faces of people, including young children, during the operation and several people had been killed in three days of fighting. In a new twist, some refugees said women were insisting on staying behind in the village when the men were separated out.

Though the evidence of abductions appeared overwhelming, the exact numbers of people taken could not be independently verified and neither could specific reports of killings and executions.

One middle aged man said his 85-year-old sick mother had been executed Friday in front of him in the village of Saradran (Trstenik) in the Pec area. He had been separated from the rest of his family and wandered aimlessly around the Morini crossing, waiting to be reunited with them. He said he had personally seen the bodies of four other villagers who were executed in the basement of their home.

Several refugees reported that between eight and 30 people had been killed in a village called Trbuhovc near Istok during Serbian clearing operations and many men had been taken away.

These witnesses said people from several nearby villages had been herded together in this village before they finally left for the border.

Refugees said Serbian forces bombarded the Pec area on Friday and launched a comprehensive "sweep" of the entire region, flushing civilians out of the hills and out of the villages.

Witnesses said in the village of Djurakovac near Istok as many as 300 men had been seized and marched away. In the village of Starodvorane, up to 100 men could have been taken off tractors. In Labljane near Pec, another 50 young men were reported taken. In a village called Saradranit, some refugees reported "hundreds" of men crowded into a school after being separated from their families.

Field officials said it was clear that many men, dozens and possibly several hundred had been seized, but the individual numbers could not be confirmed independently.

Some refugees also reported seeing individual atrocities. Several said in the village of Nabrdje near Pec they had seen three brothers taken from their home and killed on May 1. Their bodies and home were subsequently burned. Others said as many as 20 people had been killed in the village.

Refugees from Djakovica reported heavy "street" fighting in the heart of that town Friday and lighter fighting Saturday. They said the fighting – apparently between elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian forces – included individual street fighting and not only long distance small arms exchanges. As they left the town they said many buildings were ablaze.

Several refugees said they had seen scattered bodies in the streets of the town.

One arrival from Prizren Friday said he had worked in the local hospital. He was ordered back to work by the Serbian authorities but when he turned up, he was arrested and sent to the border. He said several nights earlier a total of 116 bodies had been admitted to the hospital morgue and a week ago a total of 97 bodies were admitted, including 23 women and children.

FYR of MACEDONIA

On Sunday, 220 people crossed into the FYR of Macedonia from Kosovo. Most of them had travel documents.

Since Wednesday, only a handful of people have arrived in the FYR of Macedonia. Macedonian officials on Thursday gave UNHCR assurances that refugees from Kosovo will be allowed into the country.

On Monday, officials were preparing to transport some 90 refugees who had volunteered to move from camps in the FYR of Macedonia to Albania. There, facilities for 6,000 people had been prepared for refugees in the FYR of Macedonia who will want to move out of its overcrowded camps.

HUMANITARIAN EVACUATION PROGRAM

A total of 1,015 refugees departed on Sunday under the humanitarian evacuation program from the FYR of Macedonia to third countries, including 261 to Canada, 282 to Italy, 167 to Portugal, 305 to the United Kingdom.

Some 36,000 refugees have departed under the program in which UNHCR has received offers for 135,000 places in 39 countries.

KOSOVO DISPLACEMENT STATISTICS

Information as at 10 May 1999, 06:00 GMT

Total recent displacement includes figures in Tables 1 and 2. It is emphasized that the totals in Table 1 in particular should be considered as estimates. Totals in Table 1 are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Table 1: Daily Population Estimates (figures refer to displacement since March 1998)

Refugees/Displaced in:
Remarks
Total
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Republic of Montenegro)
  • No new arrivals 9 May•
63,200
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Republic of Serbia)
  • No figures for displacement within Kosovo available•
  • Yugoslav government report of 60,000 in Serbia
  • unconfirmed•
na
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Camp population: 91,400 (source: UNHCR Skopje); arrivals 9 May: 220; departures by air 9 May: 1,015 (see Table 2 below)•
  • Host family population: 114,900 (source: Macedonian Red Cross)•
  • UNHCR border community estimate: 4,900•
  • Refugees elsewhere (source: government): 30,000•
241,200
Albania
  • Arrivals from Kosovo 8/9 May: ca. 9,600•
422,700
Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Total comprises Kosovar refugees only
  • Also 20,550 from Sandzak, 10,700 Serbs and Montenegrins from FRY, and 30,000 from Croatia•
18,500
TOTAL
745,600

Table 2: Humanitarian evacuations of Kosovar refugees from the FYR of Macedonia from 5 April through 9 May 1999 (figures subject to daily verification)

Receiving Country
Arrivals
9 May
Total
Australia
---
414
Austria
---
1,890
Belgium
---
1,205
Canada
261
1,560
Croatia
---
188
Czech Republic
---
458
Denmark
---
486
Finland
---
481
France
---
2,662
Germany
---
9,974
Iceland
---
70
Israel
---
106
Italy
282
561
Netherlands
---
2,014
Norway
---
2,783
Poland
---
909
Portugal
167
359
Romania
---
41
Slovakia
---
90
Slovenia
---
186
Spain
---
443
Sweden
---
1,078
Switzerland
---
186
Turkey
---
6,481
United Kingdom
305
635
United States
---
962
TOTAL
1,015
36,222
Table 3: Asylum applications lodged by citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during 1998 and 1999 (monthly provisional and annual figures) last updated: 6 May 1999

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