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Kosovo Continued Response: Update November 1999

CRS Response
The challenges in south Kosovo are still formidable and Catholic Relief Services staff are working hard to meet the needs of all of the communities. As the lead agency in the area, it serves as the focal point of all food and non-food distributions to seven municipalities: Dragash, Malisheva, Prizren, Rahovec, Shterpce, Shtimlje, and Suvareka.

In October, the agency resumed the distribution of flour donated by the US Department of Agriculture and continued delivery of the beans, vegetable oil, and rice which are supplied through the United States Agency for International Development "Food For Peace" program. Catholic Relief Services also continues to be the primary implementing partner for the non-food distribution program with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Throughout October 1999, the following items were distributed:

Type of food supplied Total amount (in tons)

  • Wheat flour 2,262.5
  • Beans 435.9
  • Vegetable Oil 212.2
  • Rice 7.8
  • Sugar 38.8
  • Salt 28.2
  • 7-Day Ration Packs 2.7
  • Milk 14.1
  • Baby Food 1.5
  • Tinned Fruit 2.9
  • Fruit Juice 22.2
  • Non-food commodities Number of items
  • Blankets 7,694
  • Hygiene packs 3,754
  • Plastic sheeting 4,836
  • Washing soap 10,435
  • Mattresses 1,328
  • Baby soap 4,272
  • Bottles 15,300
  • Lids 14,550

In some villages in south Kosovo, villagers report that Catholic Relief Services is providing 100% of the basic food needs. In the enclave of Cod Crkva in Rahovec, one elderly woman came to one of CRS's Albanian field monitor for the region during a distribution and said, in tears, "CRS people are the only ones who care about us."

Current Situation

Although Kosovo is no longer considered an emergency situation, conditions in the province remain serious due to lingering effects from the recent crisis. Despite the KFOR military presence, ethnic tensions between Albanians and Serbs remain high. The town of Prizren - the site of the CRS/Kosovo headquarters - still witnesses the occasional burning of houses.

Everyone in Kosovo is concerned about the winter, which is expected to be severe. The lack of a reliable power source makes life in Kosovo challenging. Many villages lack electricity altogether, and the rest of the country is currently receiving power intermittently.

Mines pose the greatest danger west of Prizren town along the border with Albania, where CRS food teams take the most precautions during monitoring and distributions. Two demining organizations are busy making the southern region of Kosovo safer. Demobilization of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a high priority with the UN Mission to Kosovo, is ongoing. Many former combatants have been incorporated into the new interim civilian corps, the Kosovo Protection Corps, or TMK.

Except for some isolated areas, a mood of determination and optimism characterizes the province as families have begun rebuilding their homes. However, families are still having a very difficult time. In every village, there are fresh graves and frequent burial ceremonies as bodies are discovered.

Most of southern Kosovo is still the scene of heavy war damage. Catholic Relief Services is working in the regions of Rahovec, Malisheva, and Suvareka, which are three of the most destroyed areas. This area of south-central Kosovo was ravaged by two years of warfare.

Copyright=A91999 CRS