Serbia + 1 more

OCHA Belgrade: Weekly Situation Report 21 - 27 Jan 2000

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HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
Coordination:

In an effort to ensure that the Humanitarian Operations Database (which covers both Serbia and Montenegro) meets the requirements of the humanitarian actors in Montenegro, OCHA conducted extensive consultations with them this week. As a result, some adjustments are being made to the database format to suit the scope of operations in Montenegro, while ensuring the compatibility with the format applied in Serbia.

Operations/Logistics:

According to IFRC, the delivery of humanitarian aid through the Yugoslav Red Cross amounted to 19,500 mt in December 1999, representing a major expansion of its capacity from the monthly average thereto of 4,000 mt.

In order to strengthen monitoring, IFRC, from early February, plans to have nine expatriate staff based in various parts of FRY (increased from the current level of three).

Refugees/IDPs:

In Montenegro, the follow-up registration has so far added about 530 IDPs to 30,289 registered by UNHCR. Applications from another 215 families are still pending. A few instances of double-registration have been detected, and the Montenegrin Commissioner for Displaced Persons and UNHCR are examining measures to address this issue.

An international NGO is implementing a new program in Berane (northeastern Montenegro), which gives a 25 DEM coupon to each IDP family per week. A concern was expressed by the Montenegrin Red Cross that such a scheme may act as a magnet for IDPs from other areas. This issue is being addressed locally, under the coordination of the UNHCR field office in Berane.

Children/Women:

UNICEF, since December 1999, has been implementing a program, worth USD 1 million, to provide heating fuel to children's institutions, maternity wards, and primary care facilities. However, due to increases in fuel prices in the world market, additional funding is urgently needed to provide heating fuel to vulnerable institutions, particularly maternity wards.

Food:

WFP reports that it has achieved 97.8% of the food distributions planned for 1999 to refugee beneficiaries and 60-65% of those to social cases.

In 2000, WFP food assistance is to cover about 337,000 refugees and 540,800 social cases.

Currently there is no gap in WFP's food pipeline.

Energy:

FRY experienced severe temperatures and energy shortages between 23 and 27 January. See the attached special update for details.

On 25 January, OCHA inspected the Minel Electrical Equipment Factory in Ripanj, as part of ongoing monitoring of the use of surge arrestor spare parts provided by Switzerland on 24 December 1999. OCHA found that the assembly and testing of the first batch of surge arrestors were satisfactory, and will continue to monitor use of these parts.

Environment:

Following its recent visit to FRY, the UNEP/UNCHS (Habitat) Balkans Task Force held a coordination meeting in Geneva on 18 January, attended by donor and UN Agency representatives. The Task Force plans to prepare, by April, a project feasibility study on the clean-up of the four "environmental hot spots," focusing particularly on areas where the environmental damage poses humanitarian risks. This will be followed by the implementation of the clean-up activities as soon as possible, which, however, would require considerable financial resources.

Flooding in Vojvodina:

There have been reports indicating flooding in Vojvodina in the last month. On 22 January, OCHA made a short visit to southern parts of Vojvodina. No significant damage to homes was observed, and there are no reports of loss of life. Nonetheless, in the town of Ledinci, on the south side of the Danube near Novi Sad, 6-8 houses had been rendered inhabitable by mudslides.

HUMANITARIAN VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT

The third meeting of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Humanitarian Vulnerability (which focuses on social cases) was held on 21 January, chaired by OCHA with participation from UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNLO, IOM and IFRC. The Working Group continued with the review/harmonization of ongoing/planned assessments and surveys and is completing the list of humanitarian vulnerability indicators.

In Montenegro, OCHA is planning a household vulnerability survey and began preliminary negotiations with a private research firm for its implementation. To the extent possible, efforts are being made to incorporate research needs of the other UN agencies into the survey design. This activity will take place in close coordination with the above-mentioned Working Group.

A joint vulnerability assessment survey of YRC, ICRC, and IFRC is to start in February, focusing on the socio-economic situation of refugees and IDPs.

OTHER MATTERS

Portugal took over the chairmanship of the Humanitarian Working Group, a gathering of the Belgrade-based donor community, and held its meeting on 25 January (hosted by the Canadian Embassy).

A humanitarian assessment mission of the Canadian Government is in Belgrade on 24-28 January, during which the mission met with a number of representatives from the local humanitarian community.

ECHO has to-date committed the funding of 87 million euros (20 million euros through the Red Cross, 30 million euros through the UN Agencies, and 37 million euros through NGOs). Funds are being used for activities in FRY in the areas of shelter, pscycho-social help, assistance to social institutions (food, equipment, repair, and heating), and refugee repatriation.

At the meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers on 24 January, no agreement was reached on the question of lifting sanctions.

For additional information, please contact:

Ms. Kayo Gotoh, HAO/Analysis, OCHA Belgrade
(Tel/Fax 381-11-682963; Email: ocha@eunet.yu)

Annex

Developments in Energy in FRY, 23.01.00-27.01.00

From 23-27 January, FRY experienced severe weather conditions and significant energy shortages. However, forecasts are that the coming week will see warmer weather.

Weather conditions and demand levels

Temperatures in Belgrade and other major centres dropped to minus 15 degrees and below; in other parts of FRY, the temperatures fell below minus 20. There have also been heavy snowfalls on 23 and 24 January, but there have not been strong winds.

Demand on 23 and 24 January was 132 GWh, and grew on 25 January (during which many blackouts were experienced). Despite official restrictions, demand approached 140 GWh on 26 January.

Description of electricity shortages

Electricity shortages have taken the following form:

Electricity supply problems: Technical failures placed a number of units in thermal power stations (Kostolac A and B, Morava, Kolubara A) out of service, reducing output by an estimated 700 MW. One unit is out of service in the most important plants, Obrenovac A and B. EPS technicians have been heavily engaged in emergency interventions, and have officially appealed to users to reduce consumption.

Electricity restrictions: EPS imposed rotating power cuts (primarily at the 110 kV and 35 kV voltage levels) of between 2 and 6 hours at a time, and often more than once a day. Industrial use of electricity was further restricted.

Voltage reductions: In addition to power cuts, planned voltage reductions are in place to reduce energy consumption.

Transmission failures: There have been a number of failures in the transmission network, which has experienced additional strain due to switching on and off of electricity and voltage reductions. This has caused some unplanned brown-outs and black-outs.

Areas most affected by electricity shortages

All areas are experiencing electricity shortages, affecting district heating systems, vulnerable institutions, residential electric heating, and industry. OCHA has details of shortages in:

Eastern Serbia, stretching along the Bulgarian border from Prahavo to Presevo, including Nis, Pirot, Leskovac, Vranje (4 hour cuts), and Zajecar (6 hour cuts).

Central Serbia, including Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Gornji Milanovac (12 hour cuts), Trstenik (also suffering severe problems at its district heating plant), and Aleksinac (reports of serious interruption to hospitals).

Vojvodina, where, according to reports, there were protests in Novi Sad against restrictions of up to 3 hours with 2 hour intervals of electricity.

Belgrade, which has been divided into 8 regions, with 2 regions at a time being cut for 2 hours or more. (Central Belgrade has so far been immune from power cuts.)

Montenegro, where parts of Podgorica have experienced outages. Heavy snow cut power to Kolasin for 2-3 days. There are reports that a technical failure has left Zeta and Tuzi (near Albanian border) with only about 2-3 hrs of electricity per day since 23 January.

Gas and heating oil shortages

There have also been reports of shortages of gas and heating fuels:

Natural gas: Gas demand rose sharply this week, reducing pressure in gas pipelines. Temperatures in centrally heated apartments in Belgrade fell to 16-17 degrees. Negotiations are continuing between FRY and Russia in an attempt to increase supply. Many industrial users, already subject to restrictions, were cut off from supply this week.

Heating oil: Heating fuel shortages are reported by a number of institutions not covered by international humanitarian assistance or "Energy for Democracy" shipments. There are reports that some hospitals have been unable to function, and of cold wards in those which are functioning (with patients providing their own electric heaters). The delayed beginning of the school term until 31 January has averted major problems in schools (and conserved supplies). Prisons remain chronically short of heating.

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