At a briefing held at the IRC October 1st,
Buck Northrup, IRC Regional Director for Former Yugoslavia, and Gerald
Martone, IRC Director of Emergency Preparedness, reviewed the current
situation in Kosovo. IRC began its work in Kosovo in March of 1997 implementing
health, water and sanitation programs as well as "community building"
activities that encouraged cooperation between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.
The situation deteriorated to its currentemergency status, with hundreds
of thousands of internally displaced ethnic Albanians taking refuge
with families or hiding in the forests. IRC recently sent an emergency
coordinator to organize the distribution of relief supplies to the
displaced families. Disease is now spreading with many, especially
the children, suffering from diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, and
skin infections, and at risk for tuberculosis and measles. Many women have
delivered their babies without medical assistance and the rate of
infant mortality is escalating. The first snowfall has arrived and
winter is approaching. Yet many families are living in the woods under
plastic sheeting strung between trees and tractors. In addition to
providing relief supplies, the IRC staff is preparing to respond with health
and shelter rehabilitation services.
Lorna Stevens, Director, Board Liaison
and Special Projects