"Many people are still without proper shelter or provisions for the Balkan winter," Hugh Ivory, LWR grants officer, said after recent work in the region. "Roofless, windowless homes may pass for shelter in the summer months, but they are not adequate now."
More than half the additional LWR aid is for displaced families and their hosts in Serbia, Montenegro and Serb enclaves in Kosovo.Some 41,000 people are receiving assistance through a $3.5 million Orthodox church assistance program for needy people in those places.
LWR is also helping get firewood, winter shoes, warm clothing and school milk to more than 75,000 people in the Sandjak region of Serbia, as well as 15,000 family food and health kits. The Sandjak region is now home to refugees from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. Many residents do not have enough warm clothes. The firewood is for people who cannot afford electricity for heating.
In Kosovo, LWR is giving further support to a landmine removal and public awareness program run by DanChurchAid, a Danish aid agency. The LWR partner has trained 135 local de-miners, secured access to key sites before the onset of winter and educated several communities about landmines, especially farmers in three rural areas. The war between NATO, Serbia and the Kosovo Liberation Army left mines and unexploded ordnance in homes, barns, schools and wells throughout the province.
"Efforts to see the population through the winter-ethnic Albanian and Serb alike-continue even as planning for spring reconstruction begins," Ivory said.
The other partner agencies in these efforts are Baltimore-based International Orthodox Christian Charities and Hungarian Interchurch Aid, members with LWR in the ACT emergency alliance. LWR has provided a total of $2.5 million worth of aid for people in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro in 1999.