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Kosovo Humanitarian Update Issue No. 23

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HIGHLIGHTS
  • Albanians continue to flee southern Serbia
  • UN Secretary-General endorses transition relief to reconstruction
  • UNICEF starts programme to reconstruct destroyed schools
1. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS

Continued violence in Kosovo. The level of violence has further increased in Kosovo in the last two weeks, particularly in the south eastern and northern regions. A Serbian physician who was working with the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), was shot dead on 26 February in the centre of Gnjilane/Gjilani. Three days later, a Russian soldier of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) was killed in Srbica/Skenderaj.

Increased tension in southern Serbia. A Serbian policeman died and three others were wounded on 26 February, when Albanian gunmen ambushed a patrol on the main road between Gnjilane and Bujanovac. Recent weeks have seen an increase in paramilitary activity in the Presevo valley in southern Serbia, which is predominantly populated by ethnic Albanians. The existence of armed Albanian militia groups in the area (of which the most outspoken formation is the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac - UCPMB in Albanian) has been reported since November 1999. They include ex-combatants of the Kosovo Liberation Army in their ranks. Their activity was highlighted again on 29 February, when they shot and wounded Marcel Grogan, an officer of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Belgrade, who was conducting a needs assessment mission in the area (at 10 kilometres from the Kosovo border). The attack on the UN officer was just a first sign of an upsurge in tension affecting the region (shooting broke out on Saturday 4 March in Dobrosin, another ethnic Albanian town in the area) and prompting many Albanians to flee to Kosovo. Over 7,000 Albanians have been displaced to Kosovo from the area since June 1999 (see below in IDP section).

Albanians return to Mitrovica. On 3 March, some 40 ethnic Albanians returned to their houses on the north side of Mitrovica escorted by some two hundred KFOR and UN policemen. KFOR soldiers used tear gas to disperse hundreds of Serbian protesters who gathered close to the apartment blocks and broke through a barbed wire fence securing the area. A few days later, a rocket hit, while a second missed, the apartment complex where the Albanians had been resettled, during street clashes where sixteen French soldiers and more than 20 civilians (mainly Serbs) were wounded. No injuries were reported in the apartment block. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reiterated the need for security, freedom of movement and access to property to be secured before minority returns were facilitated.

Substantial autonomy for Kosovo discussed at the Security Council's briefing. On 6 March, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, together with KFOR Commander, General Klaus Reinhardt, presented the latest report of the Secretary-General on Kosovo to the Security Council.

The Special Representative invited Member States to define operationally what "autonomy" will actually mean for Kosovo, and UNMIK role within that, under Security Council resolution 1244, which called for the UN to set up an interim government in Kosovo with "substantial autonomy" within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He proposed the creation of an interim constitution and the establishment of a local interim government able to guarantee the protection of all ethnic groups.

The Secretary-General's report expresses concern for deteriorating security and the level of violence against minorities. In his report, the Secretary-General appealed to Member States to provide UNMIK with more police officers, special police units, international judges and prosecutors, and penal experts. The report recalled that countries have contributed only 2,361 police officers to UNMIK, less than half its authorised strength of 4,718.

Transition to reconstruction approved by the Secretary-General. The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Dennis McNamara, said at a briefing that the Secretary-General accepted a recommendation that the UNMIK humanitarian pillar be phased out by mid-2000, as there should not be a need for a prolonged, large-scale humanitarian role by then. Mr. McNamara outlined the transition from emergency relief to reconstruction and the phasing out of the humanitarian pillar. Special attention to coordination issues will help facilitate the transition to rehabilitation and reconstruction, particularly in the areas of housing, public services, infrastructure and social welfare.

Eurocorps arrive in Kosovo. The first group of a contingent of 350 Eurocorps officers arrived in Kosovo on 8 March. The Eurocorps was created in 1992 under the aegis of the Western European Union (WEU), the defence component of the European Union and consists of five member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and Luxembourg), of which only Luxembourg has not provided officers for the Kosovo operation. Eurocorps, which can be mobilised for humanitarian missions, evacuations of member state nationals and peace-restoring or peace-keeping operations, will succeed NATO as the command of the KFOR.

Benet Rexhepi from Program Unit, UNHCR Pristina, was killed on 8 March. The Kosovo Humanitarian Update's editors join UNHCR and OCHA colleagues in expressing their condolences to Benet's loved ones.

2. SECTORAL HUMANITARIAN SUMMARY

2.1 REFUGEES/REPATRIATION

Organised returns as of 9 March 2000
From
Number of Returns
Albania
12,932
FYROM (Macedonia)
5,528
Montenegro
3,311
Other Countries
112,169
TOTAL
133,940

Source: UNHCR

2.2 IDPs

Ethnic Albanians continue to arrive from southern Serbia. UNHCR has expressed concern for a noticeable increase in internally displaced persons (IDPs) arriving in Kosovo following incidents in southern Serbia. 600 ethnic Albanians were registered in Gnjilane by UNHCR and the Mother Teresa Society in a 24-hour period. 7,000 ethnic Albanian displaced have registered with UNHCR since last June, entering Kosovo through Gnjilane. The total number of displaced may be significantly higher, as some of them have not registered for assistance. There are some 60-70,000 ethnic Albanians living in southern Serbia in the Presevo valley area.

UNHCR registers displaced from Kosovo. UNHCR, with the support of the Swiss agency SDR, has started registering displaced persons who fled from Kosovo to Serbia. UNHCR and SDR are informing IDPs through local media and by distributing promotion material. UNHCR estimates that there are at least 200,000 IDPs from Kosovo in Serbia and Montenegro, up to a quarter of whom are of Roma origin.

2.3 PROTECTION OF MINORITIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Bus services resume. The UNHCR reconciliation bus services resumed their activities on 6 March in Pristina area. The services had been suspended following the rocket attack on a UNHCR bus near Mitrovica on 2 February. Resumption in other areas is not possible now due to insecurity.

Other minorities need attention. On 26 February UNHCR organised the first UNHCR round table with representatives of the Roma minority (including Egyptian, Ashkalia and Roma representatives). The meeting was chaired by the UNHCR Special Envoy. The Roma representatives asked for increased protection, reconstruction of houses and articulated social policies, particularly better access to education. The Special Representative of the Secretary General, who made a speech, mentioned that a place on the Kosovo Transitional Council was intended for these communities, with the possibility for further expansion in the future.

OSCE concerned about local press inciting ethnic hatred. In a press release on 25 February, OSCE expressed its alarm at Kosovo newspapers publishing personal details concerning alleged war criminals. In some cases papers have published photographs and names persons detailing their current place of employment, without either presenting evidence of allegations, identifying sources of information, nor indicating whether any judicial proceeding is going on. OSCE, representing UNMIK Democratisation Pillar, is responsible, inter alia, for promoting independent media in Kosovo.

2.4 MINE ACTION

Alert on mines. There has been an increase in mine-related incidents during February. Of particular relevance is what happened on 28 February, when a bus travelling from Mitrovica to Zvecan ran over an mine laid on the road. There were no injured, but the explosion left a crater on this important road to northern Kosovo, used by local traffic but also by all UN agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and KFOR.

The Spring and Summer seasons bring about increased mine incidents, as agricultural activities start and children play more often outside. Mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) experts remind people that if they find UXO, they must not touch it. The area should be marked and the disposal specialists informed. In some misguided cases, people have moved UXO to the roadside for disposal by experts. This behaviour endangers their life and of others who could pass by. The Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) reports that 332 people were injured and 92 killed by mines or unexploded ordnance between June 1999 and January 2000.

Demining activities. The majority of the mine action assets are available for deployment for the 2000 de-mining season. These include mechanical equipment and dog teams. Mine awareness teams have been operational throughout the winter period, as well as mine field marking and maintenance teams.

The MACC holds regional mine action meetings on a weekly basis in the following locations:

- Pristina (MNB Central), Humanitarian Community Information Centre, 4 pm, Tuesday

- Mitrovica (MNB North) Maison de France 2 pm, Thursday

- Prizren (MNB South) UNMIK Headquarters 6 pm, Thursday

- Ferizaj (MNB East) NGO Building 10.30 am, Wednesday

- Peje (MNB West), NPA Offices, 6 pm, Tuesday

MACC liaison officers are always in attendance. For further information: Leonie Barnes, barnesl@un.org or (038) 500223 ext. 5356

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also active on mine awareness: its mine action programme so far covers some 320 villages in the most affected areas. The programme's staff is now training local volunteers who will carry out these activities in the villages on an ongoing basis. ICRC has begun research for a study on mine/UXO incidents, to be published later in the year.

2.5 FOOD SECURITY

WFP assessment of future food assistance needs ... Food assistance in Kosovo was planned on the basis of a number of food economy assessments. The scaling down of food assistance was proposed from April 2000 onwards, based upon expected changes in household expenditure after the winter, expected recovery of business and employment opportunities in the province and setting up of social welfare structures. In order to plan an appropriate phasing down of food assistance from April onwards, a more detailed assessment of the status of the urban food economy has been finalised by the World Food Programme (WFP). This will allow a projection of urban beneficiary numbers and food needs for the period April to December 2000, and will feed directly into WFP planning of food assistance to Kosovo over these months. The assessment has identified urban groups or types of individual that are currently, or may become in the near future, food insecure. The main urban areas within Kosovo were visited, and particular attention was paid to expenditure patterns, price movements, local economic activities in the formal and informal sectors, incomes in the private and public sector, the provision of social welfare, attitudes of IDPs to return to home villages, and reconstruction/rehabilitation plans. In parallel, WFP revised food conditions in rural areas and amongst minority groups. Findings and recommendations were integrated into a single plan which was presented to the national and international community on 10 March.

Summary of findings is available at WFP Pristina, tel. (038) 543451, e-mail: wfp.pristina@wfp.org.

... and common effort with FAO to monitor food security. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP have established an integrated food security surveillance unit in Pristina to improve planning and targeting of food security and agricultural interventions. This objective will be achieved by regularly monitoring and recording data on the agricultural situation in the province, nutritional status, food availability, and on the progress made in the re-establishment of agricultural production and economic activities. At the end of the project, the database and expertise will be transferred to local counterparts, who are already involved in the implementation of the initiative. The project is currently collecting and analysing information from major NGO partners, and designing a common database to include data on emergency interventions in the agricultural sector. The results of a FAO crop assessment mission in early January have been incorporated into this project. Geographic information system capacities and thematic mapping of food security indicators are also being developed.

Contact: Francesco Del Re, FAO, (038) 543451, e-mail: fao.kosovo.admin@wfp.org

2.6 HEALTH

Transition in the European Union's health care initiatives. The European Union Agency for Reconstruction of Kosovo, which took over from the European Union Task Force for Kosovo in February, will launch its programme in the health sector on 15 March, with funding which should be available from June. The European Community Humanitarian Office, (ECHO), which has investd some DM 22 million into primary health care since June last year, will remain a separate entity with separate funding geared to emergency-oriented projects, continuing to focus on primary health care. In recent months, it has supported the supply and distribution of drugs through its partner Pharmaciens sans Frontières, the re-establishment of routine childhood immunisation through UNICEF, the response to the needs of disabled persons though Handicap International, and mental health care and rehabilitation projects via Médecins du Monde.

Hospitals in Kosovo need basic equipment. While assessing the situation of primary health facilities (see Kosovo Humanitarian Update n.22), WHO has launched a report to evaluate the current status of equipment in the five regional hospitals of Kosovo. Much equipment has been promised and some has arrived in these last ten months, particularly in Prizren, Djakovica and Mitrovica, but sometimes promises have not been followed by contributions. The report finds that all hospitals have departments where equipment needs upgrading to the basic levels set by WHO in its equipment guidelines, while basic reusable equipment, such as stethoscopes, reflex hammers, thermometers, peak flow metres and other tools for everyday work are still missing. Two key investment areas where donor attention is urgently needed are X-ray equipment and haemodialysis. More positively, donors have recently shown a great interest in gynaecology and maternity wards.

Contact: Dr Arta Ibrani, WHO Pristina, tel. +38138 549216/218, email: artaibrani@hotmail.com.

Blood for Mitrovica. The problem of access of Albanians to the hospital and its blood transfusion department in northern Mitrovica, is raising concern. Meetings last week between Albanian doctors, UNMIK, WHO, Moroccan KFOR (which carries out civilian surgical activities), Pristina University Hospital, and the ICRC (which monitors blood products), led to an agreement that will ensure supply in emergencies and set in motion blood collection in the city. Pristina Hospital is likely to be maintained as the centre for collection of blood products, while blood storage will be provided by the Moroccan KFOR field hospital in south Mitrovica. However, a site for blood donations has to be found in the south side has to be found and collection promoted. Mitrovica hospital director, in the north side, assured ICRC that both blood and reagents are available. However, according to the WHO medical coordinator, an assessment of the hospital capacity is still needed.

2.7 EDUCATION

UNICEF and NGO partners will re-build destroyed schools. Having established, in consultation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), building standards for the rehabilitation and construction of schools, UNICEF will soon be seeking NGO partners to rebuild Category V (completely destroyed) schools, with a US$ 24.3 million donation from the Government of Japan ensured through the UN Human Security Fund for a two-year programme. A total of 73 schools will be constructed (132 schools are totally destroyed and need to be rebuilt), including a number of new schools. Around 300 schools will be provided with basic water and sanitation, following UNICEF's July 1999 assessment that found that 22 per cent of schools are without water, most schools have only exterior toilets, and very few have separate facilities for boys and girls.

The same donation will fund a network of 35 model schools in which advanced teaching methods and curricula will be introduced, including schools with Turkish, Bosnian, and Serbian pupils. Support for the education authorities in Kosovo will also be funded, while special training will be provided to the teachers of children with special needs.

A total of 873 schools have been identified for repairs. Repairs are ongoing for 271 of them and work has been completed on 379 schools. UNICEF has funded the work on 35 of the completed schools, UNHCR 96, and ECHO 111. The remainder has been funded by the Red Cross and bilateral donations through NGOs and international organisations.

2.8 CAP

Donors start supporting the 2000 CAP. First contributions and confirmed pledges for the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Southeastern Europe Humanitarian Operations (Kosovo component) covering the period January-December 2000 were received from a number of donors. Donors are alerted that the organisations that have not received contributions so far are currently obliged to use carry-over funds and draw resources from their regular programmes, including, in same cases, divert funds from development activities. The appeal's strategy, agencies' projects and requirements, for total US$ 249.6 million, are shown in the appeal document, available at: http://www.reliefweb.int/appeals.

Donations received so far:

- Belgium: 189,645 to IOM (Migrant Trafficking)
- Belgium: 800,000 to IOM (Labour Market)
- Canada: 102,000 to IOM (Reintegration of Ex-Combatants)
- Japan: 4,000,000 to IOM (Reintegration of Ex-Combatants)
- Liechtenstein: 31,500 to UNICEF (Education and Mine Awareness)
- Sweden: 199,355 to IOM (Migrant Trafficking)
- UNICEF UK National Committee: 224,000 to UNICEF (Health and Nutrition)
- Private (T. Kuroyanagi): 472,300 to UNICEF (Education and Mine Awareness)

Contributions and confirmed pledges as of 29 February 2000
Appealing Agency
Requirements (US$)
Pledges and Contributions (US$)
Coverage %
UNHCR
50,329,600
--
0.00
FAO
25,060,000
--
0.00
ILO
36,440,000
--
0.00
IOM
18,610,000
5,291,000
28.43
OCHA
979,300
--
0.00
OHCHR
1,000,000
--
0.00
UNDP
36,500,000
--
0.00
UNESCO
3,100,000
--
0.00
UNFPA
2,912,000
--
0.00
UNICEF
23,800,000
727,800
0.03
UNIFEM
1,500,000
--
0.00
UNMAS
14,000,000
--
0.00
UNV
1,500,000
--
0.00
WFP
19,990,600
--
0.00
WHO
13,873,300
--
0.00
TOTAL
249,594,800
6,729,200
0.03

These data are compiled by OCHA/CER-B Geneva based on information provided by appealing agencies and donors. For missing figures or amendments, contact ferazzi@unhcr.ch or tongol@un.org

A Kosovo Humanitarian Appeal for Mozambique has been sponsored by various international organisations, including CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Children's Aid Direct and the International Organisation for Migration, to help the more than two million people affected by the floods and cyclone that devastated Mozambique last month. Proceeds will go to the Mozambique Red Cross, which is providing emergency relief to 35,000 beneficiaries, in the form of food and non-food items, shelter, and a combined water/sanitation and health education operation to help mitigate outbreaks of cholera, other waterborne diseases and malaria.

Cash donations can be made to: Kosovo Humanitarian Appeal for Mozambique account
Micro-Entreprise Bank, Rr. Nene Tereze (perballe komunes), Pristina
Account n. 10035403-00-01

The closing date for the appeal is Monday April 17th.

FOCUS: PSYCHOSOCIAL HEALTH

Refugees and populations affected by conflict suffer from extreme trauma and a sense of loss. The experience of violence and persecution, the life as a refugee and the stress produced by living in a dangerous and unstable environment are all conditions that lead to a high risk of mental health problems.

Children are in great need of psychosocial assistance, but have limited access to it. "Children have suffered so much, and seen so many terrible things," explains Nebahate Ibrahimi, a primary school teacher for 32 years. "One of my pupils lost his father during the war, many more children live in destroyed houses." While schools were able to reopen in September last year, teachers have found that the atmosphere in the classroom can be strained. "Children are more aggressive and they find it harder to concentrate," says Nebahate. There are no official data on the extent of post-traumatic stress in children, but many teachers report worrying symptoms, such as isolation, learning problems, smoking. Schools play a very important role in helping children to cope with traumatic experiences. They provide a stable environment and a reliable structure. Teachers are the people children relate to closely, and provide role models for them. This is particularly important in the present post-war situation, where many children have lost parents or close family members. Teachers also play a significant role within the community, where their opinions are important. They have continuous contacts with families, and are frequently involved in the community's activities.

There are some 70 organisations working in Kosovo carrying out a wide variety of programmes on mental health, from counselling services to art therapy programmes. While some programmes are community-based, and target all members irrespective of age or gender, some programmes are more specialised. CARE International is one of a dozen organisations that is helping to address the problem of post-traumatic stress among children. CARE International has designed a comprehensive psychosocial training and support programme for primary school teachers, based on a pilot project implemented in the Cegrane refugee camp in Macedonia and currently running in Urosevac/Ferizaj, and Istog/Istok.

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