Former guerrillas from the KLA were sworn in on Friday as leaders of a new civilian protection corps committed to dealing with humanitarian missions such as reconstruction and disaster relief. Despite criticism from Kosovo's Serb minority, international officials are setting up the 5,000 strong corps in an attempt to give the ethnic Albanian rebels who fought against Serb rule a new role and to integrate them into civilian society.
Electricity supply and delivery has continued to be problematic. Kosovo is relying on power from Macedonia, Albania and Serbia, and UNMIK has accused Serbia of disrupting supplies - only providing the northern (Serbian) part of Mitrovica with power. Serbia's power company denies this. The electricity corporation of Kosovo is expecting electricity from Greece, but Macedonia has so far disrupted this prospective arrangement. Kouchner claims that the Macedonians are trying to extract extra income from the process. If negotiations are successful then the regular supply of Greek power would solve completely Kosovo's electricity problems.
Road conditions have continued to deteriorate as temperatures drop to -20c, despite UNMIK's having been supplied with 12 EU snowploughs and KFOR's best efforts in salting and gritting the main roads.
There have been many unsubstantiated claims of kidnappings of ethnic Albanians within Kosovo. Mitrovica remains volatile with both local and international community members involved in beatings and shootings in a number of isolated incidents. More generally, however, travel within Kosovo remains reasonably safe for both locals and internationals.
SHELTER / WINTERISATION
Despite many staff taking well-earned leave over the Christmas and New Year period, work in the villages continued. Working conditions have been uncomfortable due to problems with heating. 176 rooves in 17 villages have been built and 338 prefab shelters have been delivered to the villages of which 258 have been erected and made ready for use.
The team has been identifying new beneficiaries for 350 prefabs, with the local people taking a proactive role within the project, unloading supplies from trucks and suchlike. Two Estonian prefabs will be supplied to each selected village to provide buildings for social development and so far four units have been erected. It has been agreed that Beqiqi village will be added to the prefab and emergency shelter programme.
Proposals for 2000 have been finalised and submitted to ACT Central Services.
Christian Aid has assumed full implementational responsibilities for the ACT Shelter Programme in Rahovec as of 1 January 2000. CA will continue to cooperate with UMCOR as the 1999 programme commitments are fulfilled in 2000. UMCOR and CA are currently in the process of receiving and distributing the remaining construction materials needed in order to meet the needs of 482 families. Weather conditions and supplier delivery problems are contributing to prolonged delays in the completion of the 1999 programme. Distribution of EUB91 materials and reconstruction of houses will continue as quickly as possible and for as long as necessary in 2000. Distribution of ACT Emergency Shelter Programme prefab houses is complete in Rahovec but continues in Mitrovica as there have been delays in the programme due to dangerous road conditions. As of 15 January, 131 houses in Bare and Bajora and 186 houses in Brestovc and Dragobil have been renovated.
Many staff have taken seasonal leave and contracts have come to an end for some. The poor weather has meant that not many deliveries have been made, and lack of power and heat has adversely affected the whole working environment.
The ECHO temporary shelter programme is very close to completion. All the winter kits' materials have been received and distributed, except for a number of doors and boards. Families will in addition receive a small kit consisting of water/sanitation and electrical fittings to be purchased locally and distributed during January. Three hundred and fifteen rooves have been constructed, and UNCHR roof kits have all been delivered. Of 250 prefab houses 244 have been fully erected. The engineering team are monitoring and controlling distributions according to specifications for each house/family and at the same time acting as consultants and advisers to the local building teams.
WELL CLEANING / WATER SANITATION
Seven dead bodies were found last week in the Decani and Djakove areas in water reservoirs, rivers and wells. The presence of the bodies was reported by the local people.
There have been further requests for support in reestablishing the water supply infrastructure from polluted wells from two local villages destroyed last summer. Last week 17 wells were cleaned and put back into use.
The Pristina team has chlorinated 55 wells and cleaned and chlorinated 17 wells in Baje village, Malisheve Municipality. Baje has 35 wells still to be worked on, and these are expected to be ready for use by the end of January. The team will then move on to Panorc and Llapoeve villages in Rahovec.
The Mitrovica team has cleaned and chlorinated all wells in Rashan village. Twenty-five wells have been cleaned and chlorinated in Trstena village.
The Decani team has cleaned and chlorinated 24 wells.
Water supply to Bytych village in Malisheve municipality is 95% completed, with the remaining work to be finished in March/April. The water scheme is giving piped water supply to 62 households and one primary school. The water is collected from an uphill source and supplied to the villagers by gravity. The project was featured on Kosovo television on 8 January. Further activity in Skhoza village is postponed until spring.
New Roma camp: The transfer from the old camp took place on 17 and 18 January.
In Mitrovica township work is in progress on Migjeni Secondary School, and also on Muharem Bektesi School in Scenderaj Municipality.
The programmes are being delayed by the cold weather, as no concrete or plastering work may be carried out when the temperature is below zero, and digging of trenches can only take place when soil is not frozen.
Water and Sanitation Programme - Decani
Work started on 3 January. The sanitation promotion group is giving valuable information daily, working in Lower Strellc and in Pobergj. Materials for 80 houses in a new settlement are currently being purchased.
Ten prefabs, intended to serve as community rooms for women and small children, have been set up near schools.
Four grinding machines have been offered by a workshop in eastern Germany. They will provide work to three or four people in Mitrovica.
Six women completed their course in basic social work.
On 12 January there was a meeting of the social development services of MCIC, UMCOR, LWF and the ACT Executive Programme Officer. Experiences of working with vulnerable people, youth organisations and local NGOs and communities were exchanged.
Winter is still slowing the tempo on all building sites since the Kosovo building companies have no equipment, technology or traditions to facilitate work in extreme weather conditions.
An opening ceremony was held on 5 January at the school of Lajthiste in Obilic. The school was totally rebuilt from a burnt-out shell. In addition, new furniture and stoves were provided. Norwegian KFOR were particularly delighted as this marked the first completed school in the cooperation agreement between KFOR and ACT/NCA. There are another three schools at various stages of completion due to be finished in February. Negotiations are currently underway to extend this cooperation into shelter projects.
FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME
Since mid-December a total of 59 tractors have been repaired in Zhabare and Koshove villages in Mitrovica municipality, and in Bella Cerka, Krusha e Madhe and Retia in Rahovec municipality. The Field Officers in Mitrovica and Rahovac are also monitoring the mended tractors.
Following the 200 Appeal, ACT/UMCOR is starting a new tractor repair programme for another 60 tractors in three different municipalities and six new villages. Currently the team are meeting village and municipal leaders and assessing villages and municipalities as well as tractors to be repaired.
In Koshtove and Vidshinq in Mitrovica Municipality 400 vegetable seed packages are being distributed. There remains another 2200 vegetable seed packages (comprising lettuce, carrot, parsley, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, red beet, spinach, peas and pepper) which will be distributed before spring.
OVERVIEW OF ACT RESPONSE:
The six implementing partners in Kosovo are the Lutheran World Federation, Christian Aid,United Methodist Committee on Relief, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Norwegian Church Aid, and DanChurchAid. Together they constitute the ACT humanitarian response within Kosovo, working in the predominantly rural areas surrounding Mitrovica, Decani, Djakova, and Rahovic; and engaged in shelter and school rehabilitation, winterization, de-mining, well cleaning /water sanitation, agricultural and food assistance, and social community development.
Of the fourteen projects within the current ACT Appeal, four - Hungarian Interchurch Aid, Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization, the International Orthrodox Christian Charities and LWF - are focused on assisting internally displaced people, refugees, and others in need within the FRY areas of Vojvodina, Sandzak, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.
Submitted by Jane Connolly, Information Officer ACT Balkans
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org