BUREAU FOR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE (BHR)
OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)
The USAID/OFDA-funded distribution of emergency shelter kits is complete, with 100 percent of the material received by implementing partners in Kosovo and 100 percent delivered to beneficiaries.
USAID/OFDA has completed delivery of lumber for roofing packages to all implementing partners and has only 1,000 roofing packages (of a total of 3,000) still to deliver to the roofing depot in Ferizaj. To date, a total of 86 percent of the timber for roofing packages has been received in Kosovo, with 54 percent (4,274 packages) distributed to beneficiaries.
The Adventist Development and Relief
Agency (ADRA) reports that under its USAID/OFDA-funded Unfinished Houses
Project, it has currently signed up 188 owners who have agreed to have
their houses used as winter shelters in return for having them completed.
These 188 homes will potentially provide shelter for 564 families (3,948
UNICEF reports that 600 of the more than 900 schools in Kosovo identified as needing mine clearance have now been cleared, and repairs have been made in 275 of these schools, while repairs are underway in another 299 buildings.
Russian KFOR troops undertaking humanitarian projects report receiving a mixed reaction from the local Albanian population in Skenderaj (Srbica) municipality. In the village of Ocarevo, some ethnic Albanians were happy to receive clothes and food, while others destroyed a footbridge that Russian troops had built over a small river and hung a sign on the town hall warning villagers not to accept any aid from Russian KFOR. The local Prefectura said that Russian troops should remain in their bases and refrain from providing assistance.
Traffic into Kosovo is improving, with the wait to cross the border averaging 10 to 30 minutes for light vehicles. In the early fall, trucks carrying humanitarian cargo waited at the border for two to seven days.
Longer delays continue for trucks exiting Kosovo, with Macedonian customs taking approximately 20 minutes to clear each empty truck leaving the country. Approximately 200 to 250 trucks are reportedly waiting to exit.
Winter weather conditions, and the freezing and thawing of roads are expected to pose challenges to the delivery of shelter materials into Kosovo and to beneficiaries. However, because some roads are being repaired even as they deteriorate, USAID/OFDA rail and road transport operations currently continue to run smoothly.
To date 28 trains with USAID/OFDA-funded shelter materials have arrived in Kosovo and have been off-loaded.
Upon request from NGOs and communities, USAID/OFDA has moved 16 trucks from its 45-truck fleet at the Teretna railhead in Kosovo Polje to the roofing depot to transport shelter materials to warehouses and villages. The USAID/OFDA transport capacity, combined with KFOR assets and the USAID/OFDA implementing partners' own capacity, is currently meeting transport demand.
The Roma ("Gypsy") population in Kosovo continue to face security problems of varying degrees throughout the province. Plans are being made to relocate the Roma camp in Obilic to the Plementina Barracks as early as next week. The plans have been complicated, however, by some community members who continue to insist on moving the entire camp of more than 750 persons at one time. UNHCR insists that the logistics and security of such a large move would be too complex, and suggests moving only half of the camp at one time.
The Roma leaders of the Obilic camp are urging non-camp Roma to join them in their new location at the barracks. However, UNHCR has stressed that the Plementina Barracks will not hold significant population increases if this invitation is accepted.
UNHCR plans to establish a school for Roma children at the barracks by using donated containers or a large heated tent.
A group of ethnic Albanians in Plementina are still expressing their intention to take over the barracks by force for use by homeless Albanians. UNHCR has discussed this prospect, and the need to secure the barracks, with KFOR.
A UNHCR Officer working with Roma families has identified the lack of security as the single largest issue keeping the Roma from working and living successfully in non-Roma communities.
UNHCR and The World Food Program (WFP) report that urban minorities of non-Albanian populations in Kosovo are dependent upon food aid, while rural minority communities have access to a significant amount of food from agricultural produce. Insecurity, lack of employment, and lack of access to market places have limited food access for urban minorities.
UNHCR is focusing on the importance of providing these communities with security for normal livelihood practices.
The last refugee camp in Macedonia - Stenkovec II - officially closed this week. Over the past 10 days close to 1,600 Roma refugees from the camp have been moved into collective centers at Ljubanci, Struga, Saraj and Pretor. Another 400 have been transferred to host families.
Although the Roma camp leadership had been resisting the transfer of the Stenkovec population since late September, the arrival of colder weather and a concerted UNHCR/NGO effort at rumor control, convinced most of the population to leave.
According to all accounts, transfers to collective centers, once initiated December 3, has gone quite smoothly.
As of December 9 there still remained 670 Roma at Stenkovec and there were doubts as to where they would be placed. Many of these refugees are still resisting transfer. In addition, most Roma-designated collective center space is now occupied.
UNHCR and Macedonian authorities are now engaged in an active effort to find additional host families. This solution, however, will depend substantially on the cooperation of the refugees who remain at the Stenkovec site and their willingness to move on.
To date, the U.S. Government (USG) has provided over $465 million in response to the Kosovo crisis since March 1998.
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