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OCHA Belgrade: Weekly Situation Report 10-20 Dec 1999

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HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
Consolidated Appeals:

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for FRY (excluding Kosovo), Mr. Steven Allen, on 14 December held a donor information meeting on the recently launched Consolidated Appeal for Southeastern Europe, where UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, OHCHR, and IOM briefed on their planned activities in 2000.

Coordination/Humanitarian Operations Database:

As reported in the last sitrep, OCHA, with support from ECHO, has launched the Humanitarian Operations Database (HOD) initiative, designed to track project activity in a structured form and to be used as a tool for planning and co-ordination. The information for HOD is being collected from humanitarian agencies through a Project Report Form.

The Project Report Form is designed to collate information in a way which is useful to humanitarian agencies. For example: a) data can be presented at different levels of detail, from individual projects up to a summary overview of humanitarian activity, depending on the requirements of different actors; b) the database can assist in sectoral coordination, as it can present information by sector and sub-sector; c) the HOD can facilitate inter-agency and cross-sectoral programming, as the data can also be presented by inter-alia beneficiary category, location, etc.; and d) data collated by different key criteria can be used to identify gaps and overlaps, information which could be useful in project planning and design.

Refugees/IDPs:

UNHCRs registration of Kosovo IDPs in Montenegro was finalized on 18 December. As of 14 December, the registration figures stood at 29,482 persons (10,391 Montenegrins, 7,278 Serbs, 5,596 Romas, 907 Egyptians, 3,805 Muslims, 1,084 Albanians, 126 Yugoslavs, and 295 others). (Note: "Egyptians" are a group of Roma who claim Egyptian origin.)

Food Assistance:

WFP, jointly with FAO, has approved the Regional Emergency Operation for Year 2000. In Serbia, WFP is to provide 145,690MT of food (valued at USD 92.3 million) to the most vulnerable of post-Dayton refugees and social cases (the needs of IDPs are currently covered by ICRC). The planning figure for social cases in 2000 is 540,800, including destitute persons with neither support nor earning potential, disabled persons, residents of social institutions and the elderly with low pensions (less than YUD 580 per capita) and no additional income.

Energy Assistance:

With bilaterally-provided technical expertise, OCHA has identified on-site repair possibilities in key substations, where, with technical assistance, damaged transformers, hitherto un-repaired, may be quickly put back into operation.

The first delivery of High Voltage equipment from Switzerland to stabilize key substations is expected this week, with additional parts to arrive in the winter months. Mechanisms to verify proper use of these parts are in place.

An OCHA inspection team has verified the low levels of water in FRYs main hydro-power facilities, which is the result of overuse of hydro-power in previous months to compensate for shortages in thermal power. Despite heavy rainfall in southwest Serbia, Montenegro and Herzegovina, large demand levels have prevented the pump storage reservoir at the major facility in Bajina Basta from accumulating significant water levels. When OCHA visited the facility last week, water levels in the main reservoir were under 20%. Depending on weather patterns, water shortages may inhibit peak power production and production of back-up power in the case of major technical failures elsewhere in the system.

Recent technical failures include the collapse of three large auto-transformers in Zrenjanin, Kraljevo 3 and Leskovac substations. Failures at lower voltage levels have also created shortages, including in many villages in Central Serbia around Kraljevo, Cacak and Valjevo which were without electricity for over 60 hours during the last week.

Shortages of heating fuel in Cacak have left many residents without district heating.

Negotiations are continuing between FRY and Russia regarding enlarging natural gas supplies. According to a statement of the Director of the Belgrade district heating company, there are shortages of natural gas, partly due to use of limited gas supplies for industrial purposes. Reductions in natural gas supply for district heating and domestic use remain in place.

VULNERABILITY AND RISK ASSESSMENT

The second meeting of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Humanitarian Vulnerability was held on 20 December, to discuss links among various existing sectoral surveys/assessments and , with a view to developing consensus on a set of indicators for future monitoring. The next meeting is scheduled for 17 January 2000.

A UNDP mission was completed in FRY, aiming to develop an early warning project. It is envisaged that this project would regularly provide baseline data and anlysis on macro-economic trends - very useful information for the humanitarian community as it can be used as a background against which more specific humanitarian criteria can be measured.

UPDATE ON MONTENEGRO

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator visited Podgorica, accompanied by the Heads of OCHA and UNICEF offices in FRY, and met with senior government officials including the Prime Minister, as well as the Ministers of Health, Education, and Social Welfare.

The Montenegrin Red Cross (MRC) and the IFRC held a three-day training workshop in Bar for all municipal MRC secretaries, covering such topics as computer spreadsheet, logistical planning, and other operational matters. On the final day of the workshop, UNHCR, WFP, OCHA and CRS participated in an open forum entitled "Relief and Development,” where the future of the MRC was discussed, together with the issues of common interest such as dealing with donor relations, transparency and accountability. It was noted, with appreciation, that MRC has strengthened its efforts to control beneficiary figures, in line with the procedures laid out in the UNHCR registration campaign as well as the WFP guidelines.

OTHER MATTERS

There is a growing concern over sustained donor commitment for humanitarian operations in FRY, endangering the continuation of planned assistance as well as the credibility of humanitarian agencies. The humanitarian community remains united behind the principle that assistance must be provided according to needs, free from political consideration.

For additional information, please contact:
Ms. Kayo Gotoh, HAO/Analysis, OCHA Belgrade
Address: Kneza Milosa 68/II, 11000 Belgrade, FRY
Telephone: (381)(011) 3164-365/367/368/371; Fax: 682-963; Email: ocha@eunet.yu

This is the last Sitrep in 1999 unless there are major, urgent developments.The next sitrep will be issued in the second week of January 2000.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.