UNMIK has initiated a Housing Task Force to plan the transition of housing rehabilitation and reconstruction from UNHCR to the Joint Interim Administrative Structure (JIAS). The task force is charged with developing coordination mechanisms and plans for the reconstruction of housing units in Kosovo.
The Standards Working Group of the Housing Task Force will seek to harmonize the approach of donors, agencies and institutions involved in housing reconstruction.
Emergency shelter activities in the province during the winter of 1999 - 2000 showed that procurement and transport of construction materials are two of the main obstacles for reconstruction. Large stockpiles are available in surrounding countries, but a large-scale program will inevitably result in price inflation.
Kosovo is generally no longer in a state of emergency in the health sector. WHO reports that health facilities "still struggle day to day with essential utilities," and long-term drug supplies have still not been secured. However, WHO reports that all hospitals and most health houses/ambulantas in Kosovo are open, and to date there have been no outbreaks of infectious diseases.
There are currently five regional hospitals, one teaching hospital (Pristina), and 234 ambulantas functioning in Kosovo. While one third of the health houses and ambulantas were not damaged during the conflict, most of them suffer from disrepair and long-term neglect.
According to UNMIK and WHO, more than 13,000 people are listed in their health personnel databases. Among these, UNMIK and WHO count 2,100 physicians, 6,200 nurses and medical technicians, 360 dentists, 50 pharmacists, and 290 midwives. Another 800 Serb staff are believed to be working in Mitrovica hospital.
USAID/Food for Peace (FFP) has approved an additional 8,000 MT of wheat flour for WFP's emergency operations in the Kosovo region, as well as 4,250 MT of beans and flour for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and 900 MT of beans and vegetable oil for Mercy Corps International (MCI).
Safety and Security:
KFOR has increased the number of troops in Mitrovica in response to conditions there described as "extremely hostile." A large-scale search conducted by KFOR for illegal weapons and criminal elements in Mitrovica was conducted between February 13 and February 24. KFOR plans to continue searching for weapons in Mitrovica and other communities, in close cooperation with UNMIK police.
KFOR reports that it plans to maintain a strong presence in Mitrovica to include foot patrols, vehicle patrols, static guards, and vehicle checkpoints. KFOR plans to focus its protective measures on minority areas of the city.
Some 25,000 people marched from Pristina to Mitrovica on February 21 in a demonstration calling for the unity of Mitrovica. Access to the city was denied to the marchers with the exception of a delegation received at UNMIK headquarters. The marchers were blocked from entering the city in an effort to avoid further inflaming an already volatile situation.
KFOR reported that during the march, it was necessary to use tear gas on several occasions in order to keep Albanian crowds from swarming across the Western Bridge to the Serb-dominated north side. The crowds dispersed as the evening curfew and dusk approached.
The U.S. Government (USG) has provided more than $533 million in response to the Kosovo crisis since March 1998.