International humanitarian relief operations in Kosovo are moving from emergency response to longer-term rehabilitation and development after nine months of one of the largest-ever international relief operation in dollars spent per capita.
According to UNHCR, the focus of relief agencies is shifting to key areas such as the need to rebuild the rule of law and foster tolerance throughout Kosovo. UNHCR plans to continue its protection services for minorities, as well as programs to improve living conditions, such as bus services to promote freedom of movement.
On a recent visit by the USAID/OFDA DART to International Rescue Committee (IRC) operations in communities throughout Prizren, the DART learned that approximately 70 percent of these communities rely on individual wells for water, however many wells are unprotected and therefore in danger of contamination from bacteria. IRC is addressing this problem through a program that offers emergency well cleaning, followed by education on the prevention of well contamination and maintaining a clean water supply.
IRC is also implementing the use of volunteer community case workers (CSWS) who are taught to chlorinate and clean wells, and are expected to follow-up with water and sanitation needs after the IRC program ends. In addition, IRC plans to provide protection (covers) for the wells to reduce contamination and therefore the need for continued chlorination.
IRC estimates a 30 to 40 percent continuation of well chlorination once the program ends. At that time, maintenance of water and sanitation standards will depend upon individual household efforts, as the community-level infrastructure to address such issues does not exist.
UNHCR reported that the number of people from southeast Serbia seeking assistance through UNHCR reached its highest level to date on Monday, March 6, when 626 persons arrived at the IRC-managed community information center. The center offers referrals for vulnerable Albanian families seeking services from the international humanitarian community in the Gjilan area.
Due to the large influx of IDPs, UNHCR, IRC, and the American Refugee Committee (ARC) all reported the capacity of temporary community shelters (TCS) and USAID/OFDA-supported host family arrangements in Gjilan has diminished.
The UNHCR/Gjilan office indicated that they do not have immediate plans to increase the capacity of TCS facilities in the Gjilan region.
The most effective option for accommodating the influx of IDPs is through USAID/OFDA-supported host family arrangements. ARC currently employs four teams of engineers who are assessing additional homes to host the recent IDPs from southeast Serbia.
Safety and Security:
A recent assessment by UNHCR and OSCE on the situation of ethnic minorities in Kosovo found that violence against minorities continues unabated throughout the province, and contributes to the insecurity felt by ethnic Albanians in northern Mitrovica and by Serbs, Roma, and other minorities in Kosovo.
Despite having dropped from levels recorded in previous reports, serious crime rates remain "unacceptably high," according to the UNHCR and OSCE assessment, an indication that ethnically motivated crime continues on a regular basis throughout Kosovo.
The UNHCR and OSCE assessment cited the strengthening of security policies and the rule of law process as imperative to improving the situation.
On February 1, SRSG Kouchner signed UNMIK resolution 2000/4 prohibiting the incitement of national, racial, religious, or ethnic hatred, discord, or tolerance. The regulation was passed for the "purpose of maintaining public peace and order in the territory of Kosovo." The provisions of the regulation allow for the imposition of fines and/or imprisonment of up to five, eight, or ten years depending on the level of the transgression.
The U.S. Government (USG) has provided more than $533 million in response to the Kosovo crisis since March 1998.
USAID/BHR: $ 276,893,000
FFP: $ 131,200,000
DOS/Population, Refugees and Migration: $209,036,475