LETTER DATED 25 FEBRUARY 2000 FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) of 10 June 1999, I have the honour to convey the attached report on the international security presence in Kosovo covering the period 15 December 1999 to 23 January 2000 (see annex).
I should be grateful if you would bring it to the attention of the members of the Security Council.
(Signed) Kofi A. ANNAN
Monthly report to the United Nations on KFOR operations
1. Over the reporting period (15 December 1999-23 January 2000), there were approximately 44,000 KFOR troops deployed in theatre, with no change in national deployments since the last report. The situation at Orahovac remains unchanged, with Russian troops unable to deploy into the area around the town. Efforts continue to be made to find a complete resolution to this deployment problem.
2. Over the reporting period, violence in the province remained at a persistent level. The overall level of violence has declined dramatically since KFOR's deployment, although the murder rate remains a cause of major concern. There was a spate of killings in the province in mid-January, most of which were ethnically motivated, such as the killing of three Serbs close to the Eastern Kosovo-Serbia boundary line in MNB (East), and the murder of four members of a Bosniac family at Prizren (MNB (South)) on 10 January.
3. On 17 December in Orahovac (MNB (South)), there was a grenade attack on a café in the Serb section of the town, in which one Serb died. Attacks on houses belonging to both Serb and Albanian communities were reported throughout the period, and on 15 January, there was a bomb attack against a Serb church in Cernica (MNB (East)). There were no injuries, but the church sustained heavy damage.
4. KFOR remains committed to the protection of ethnic minorities, and in addition to area patrolling, KFOR troops continue to guard patrimonial sites and minority areas. Throughout the province, KFOR provides some 750 patrols around the clock. There are static guards at 550 important sites, such as churches and businesses, and over 200 checkpoints at permanent and varying locations. KFOR also continues to work closely with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) police, who remain responsible for investigating inter-ethnic violence.
5. Over the reporting period, there were a number of attacks against KFOR troops, one of which led to the death of a United States soldier when his car hit an anti-tank mine in MNB (East).
6. KFOR continues to work closely with the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre and other demining organizations in Kosovo in order to foster mine awareness training and to educate both soldiers and civilians about the danger of mines and unexploded ordnance. By 23 January, 7,873 anti-personnel mines, 5,592 anti-tank mines and 8,876 bomblets had been cleared.
7. KFOR troops continue to uncover and to confiscate caches of weapons throughout the area of operations on a regular basis. In early January, in MNB (West), KFOR troops confiscated an AK-47 rifle, six hand grenades and quantities of ammunition during three separate house searches. Four men were arrested. On 10 January, in MNB (Centre), KFOR confiscated nine AK-47 rifles, three shotguns, two machine pistols, one pistol, plastic explosives, grenades and a large quantity of ammunition. Near the Morina border crossing in MNB (West) on 21 January, KFOR troops recovered a significant quantity of military equipment, weapons and explosives. On 22 January, a number of weapons and explosives, including 13 kilograms of TNT, were confiscated from a house belonging to a Kosovar Albanian at Crnoberg (MNB (West)). During a search operation at Prizren on 21 and 22 January, vehicle checkpoints and house searches resulted in 35 people being detained for various offences, including curfew violations, selling illegal cigarettes and possession of weapons. In line with KFOR policy, all confiscated weapons will be destroyed.
Cooperation and compliance by the parties
8. The Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) was inaugurated on 21 January, when 44 senior leaders were sworn in. The Provisional KPC, as it was known until that date, remained largely compliant over the reporting period. However, there are indications that some former Kosovo Liberation Army members could be involved in criminal activities or at least be linked to criminal organizations, and there have been examples of involvement in the intimidation of ethnic minorities and in smuggling and organized crime.
9. In general, the Serb Army (VJ) and Serb security forces continue to comply with the terms of the Military Technical Agreement and to be cooperative in their dealings with KFOR. Over the period, VJ units were operating in southern Serbia, near the Ground Safety Zone, but this was assessed as normal seasonal training.
Cooperation with international organizations
10. KFOR continues to provide humanitarian assistance throughout Kosovo on a daily basis, with special focus on the transport of fuel and firewood. KFOR troops also support food distribution efforts by international organizations, and escorts refugees and internally displaced persons.
11. As of 23 January, the UNMIK police force numbered 1,973 persons, out of an approved force of some 4,718. The estimated requirement according to the UNMIK police commissioner is even greater, some 6,000. The temporary shortfall in police numbers therefore continues to be filled by KFOR troops and by the theatre-level multinational specialized units, primarily in order to combat organized crime, to provide anti-riot capability and to mount search operations. KFOR also provides daily support to the Kosovo Police School. The second class of recruits, numbering 178, of whom 25 per cent are minorities (20 Serbs), were due to graduate on 19 February 2000.
12. Control and monitoring of borders remains a high priority for KFOR. KFOR troops control, patrol and monitor border and provincial boundary crossing points. There are seven recognized border-crossing points between Albania and Kosovo; two are open and permanently manned with KFOR troops working alongside UNMIK police and customs; the other five are closed but patrolled on a regular basis, which enables the prevention of illegal border crossings. KFOR also provides infantry for each of the two border crossing points between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo (Deneral Jankovic and Globodica). Turkey recognizes this country with its constitutional name.
13. The internal Serbian provincial boundary with Kosovo is open for free passage by Federal Republic of Yugoslavia citizens and all others with valid Federal Republic of Yugoslavia visas. There are two crossing points with Montenegro, although only one is open, and manned on a permanent basis by KFOR. KFOR also maintains a robust military presence at the five "gates" established during the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia armed forces' withdrawal from Kosovo in June 1999. Two other crossing points are also manned with KFOR platoons and armour.
14. These measures allow KFOR to conduct a rigorous control of the official border crossing points. But in recognition of the fact that illegal traffic will seek to circumvent these controls whenever possible, KFOR also conducts regular helicopter patrols along the length of the Kosovo border and internal boundary. KFOR and UNMIK police continue to conduct joint patrols and search operations, and, as reported above, uncovered a large cache of weapons and explosives in a house near the Albanian border on 21 January.
15. KFOR continues to support UNMIK at all levels of the civil administration. The Kosovo-UNMIK Joint Interim Administrative Structure, which was established on 15 December, was due to become operational at the end of January 2000. The consultative role of the Kosovo Transitional Council will be maintained, but its membership will be enlarged to better reflect the ethnic composition of Kosovo. To date, no minority representatives have participated in the JIAS.
16. UNMIK is in the process of establishing the Railways of Kosovo organization, with support from KFOR. For an interim period, a Rail Movement Coordination Centre will manage all rail movements within Kosovo and into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Pristina airport reopened to commercial traffic on 11 January.
Return of refugees and displaced persons
17. In the period from mid-December, the number of refugee returns slowed down considerably because of the deteriorating weather. Between July 1999 and 15 January 2000, the International Office of Migration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugee repatriation programme assisted a total of 125,380 voluntary returns, mainly from countries outside the Balkans. With respect to internally displaced persons, there have been some efforts at cooperation between the Serb and Albanian communities, although this is not a general trend. KFOR, UNMIK, UNHCR and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are working closely together to improve conditions for the Serb minority at Orahovac, Velika Hoca and Djakovica.
18. There has been no significant change in the security situation in Kosovo since the last report. Ethnically motivated violence, especially murder, remains a major concern, and there is continued tension at Mitrovica, Gnjilane and Orahovac. KFOR will continue to work in close coordination with UNMIK to address these issues in order to promote and maintain security and stability in the province.