The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Balkans, Mr. Carl Bildt, visited Montenegro on 13-14 February. UNHCR organized a large informal discussion session with the UN agencies and other key organizations, where regional development and the current situation in Montenegro were discussed. The key element of the discussion was the linkage between humanitarian assistance and the stability in the region. Mr. Bildt also met with Montenegrin President Djukanovic and other senior officials.
OCHA held a meeting with the FRY Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 16 February and discussed various issues of common concern, including recent developments at the border with Montenegro, assistance in the energy sector, and the Government's request for transition-type assistance in FRY. Also discussed was the issue of pending NGO legislation, which the Government is likely to address in early March (possibly in the form of an interim framework, if not full legislation).
In Montenegro, UNHCR has renewed its sub-agreement on the maintenance of collective centers with the Montenegrin Commissariat for Displaced Persons, for the next three months.
It was reported that a fire broke out in one of the barracks in a Roma IDP settlement at Konik in Montenegro, killing one baby and injuring at least four persons. These barracks served as temporary accommodation for two families, though originally designed to serve as a kitchen. The cause of the fire is unknown.
In Montenegro, WFP has delayed the February food distribution for privately accommodated refugees from Bosnia and Croatia, pending the Montenegrin Red Cross's preparation of new beneficiary lists (being revised according to the joint UN food assessment mission of July 1999). After the lists are received, WFP plans to proceed with double ration distribution in March.
In Montenegro, UNICEF is organizing non-formal education classes for approximately 1,000 Roma children from Kosovo IDP families accommodated in Podgorica, using the premises of a local school.
Save the Children/US plans to strengthen the role of NGOs involved in preschool education in Montenegro, in order to increase the capacity to enroll more children. Currently, only 18% of children can attend the existing network of state kindergartens in Montenegro.
OCHA chaired a fuel coordination meeting on 11 February in Belgrade. The meeting discussed ways of avoiding overlap in humanitarian fuel assistance and "Energy for Democracy" deliveries, methods of monitoring, current unmet needs, and the desirability of early planning for the 2000-2001 winter.
The Joint UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) Balkans Task Force (BTF) has been in FRY this week, conducting humanitarian assistance feasibility studies at Bor, Kragujevac, Novi Sad, and Pancevo, the environmental "hot spots" identified in its earlier report, "The Kosovo Conflict - Consequences for the Environment and Human Settlements."
As an emergency response to the cyanide spill from the Baia-Mare gold mine in Romania, UNEP has directed BTF scientists currently in FRY to take water quality samples from the Danube River. Local officials have closed down the Vinca water processing plant on the Danube River near Belgrade. Affected residents are being supplied with water from water tanks.
HUMANITARIAN VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT
At the ICVA convened NGO coordination meeting on 11 February, the issue of defining and measuring humanitarian vulnerability was discussed. This issue is considered important by NGOs in terms of precise targeting of beneficiaries in project design and of overall program justification/fund. A Working Group on Humanitarian Vulnerability was established by OCHA in December 1999, with the participation of UN agencies and IFRC. OCHA gave a brief overview of progress made and problems identified, and invited interested NGOs to participate in the coordination, design and/or implementation of vulnerability assessments.
ECHO convened a meeting on the issue of vulnerability regarding food/non-food items on 15 February, attended by WFP, YRC, ICRC, IFRC and OCHA. WFP are planning a nationwide household food security assessment in March, and the Red Cross family is planning a vulnerability assessment focussing on refugees and IDPs. It was agreed that the parties will coordinate their efforts so that the results are compatible to the extent possible in building an overall picture of vulnerability.
IFRC reported that it was conducting an internal survey on beneficiaries, as well as an independent study on its kitchen program (due to be published by the beginning of March).
On 14 February, the EU decided to suspend, for six months, the flight ban imposed against FRY, reportedly to recognize and further encourage the opposition efforts. At the same time, the EU is to expand the list of FRY citizens banned from entering EU countries and to tighten financial sanctions.
IOM has singed an MOU with UNMIK to conduct the election registration for the displaced former residents of Kosovo currently hosted in other areas of FRY. The registration is due to start at the beginning of April and last for 10-12 weeks.
The teachers' strike, which began on 31 January, is still continuing, affecting over 860 schools in Serbia. On 14 February teachers held a one-day strike as a "warning."
For comments and questions, please
Ms. Kayo Gotoh, HAO/Analysis, OCHA Belgrade (Tel/Fax 381-11-682963; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.