The humanitarian community is concerned with reports of population movements of ethnic Albanians from southern Serbia. According to UNHCR, over a 24-hour period during the weekend of 3-5 March, 120 families (500 persons) from Dobrosin area had arrived in Gnjilane in Kosovo, allegedly in fear of intimidation and harassment. There are (unconfirmed) indications that some 6,000 new IDPs from this area have so far entered Kosovo since June 1999.
While the vast majority of the ethnic Albanians have gone to Kosovo, a small number of them have reportedly moved to FYR Macedonia, raising a concern over the country's fragile ethnic balance.
In Montenegro, an information campaign on the repatriation to Croatia was carried out, under the overall coordination of UNHCR, in the Podgorica, Bar and Herceg-Novi municipalities. Some 800 refugees participated in the campaign and were briefed on the procedure for organized returns and on the prevailing conditions in Croatia. While showing significant interest in repatriation, many of the refugees expressed their dissatisfaction and frustration with the situation in Croatia.
In Montenegro, an enlargement of the Konik (near Podgorica) camp for Roma IDPs is under way. Three prefabricated structures, donated by the Italian Red Cross, are due to arrive next week, and will be erected through joint efforts of World Vision and the Roma community itself. Two of the buildings are to be used to accommodate the excess population of the Konik I camp, while the third one will be used for non-formal education. World Vision has also started the construction of additional individual cottages in the Konik II camp.
In Montenegro, efforts are continuing to strengthen the monitoring of food aid received by different beneficiary groups. A joint inter-agency meeting, coordinated by IFRC and WFP, was held, to discuss the organization of monitoring throughout Montenegro and to establish a common understanding of questions contained in the joint monitoring form.
On 7 March, a further shipment of OCHA spare parts was delivered to the Electric Power System of Serbia (EPS), including HV circuit breakers, testing instruments, erection material for HV substations, and a boiler feed pump inner casing urgently needed at the Obrenovac A thermal power plant. OCHA met with EPS officials on 9 March to further discuss the use of the delivered parts and EPS's plans for essential repairs and maintenance during summer and spring.
Occasional disruptions of electricity supply due to technical failures have continued during the reporting period. Restrictions on industrial use of electricity and natural gas remain in place.
Sales of gasoline and diesel at commercial pumping stations, which had recommenced on 23 February, were disrupted this week.
On 4 March, the UNEP/OCHA assessment mission on the impact of the cyanide spill in Romania completed its work in FRY, having collected samples from the Tisza and Danube Rivers. The mission was led by the Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Europe, Mr. Frits Schlingemann, who held meetings with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator (Mr. Steven Allen), the Head of the EU Delegation (Mr. Michael Graham), and the Belgrade representatives of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe. The UN scientists collaborated with local scientists on technical issues. The report of the assessment mission to Romania, Hungary, and FRY is expected shortly.
HUMANITARIAN VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT
In Montenegro OCHA is continuing the discussions to develop the upcoming survey on household vulnerability. OCHA also held discussions with the Danish Refugee Council regarding their initiative to carry out an assessment of the social and economic position of Montenegrin households who are hosting IDPs and of the relationship between host-families and IDPs.
UPDATE ON MONGENEGRO
According to the statements of senior Montenegrin officials and media reports, the border between Serbia and Montenegro is now completely blocked. In addition to the previously-imposed ban on food products, the Serbian authorities broadened the range of controlled goods and have even prohibited the export of medicines into Montenegro. As for the Montenegrin-produced goods, only aluminum and steel are allowed into Serbia. While the Montenegrin Government describes the blockade as Belgrade's attempt to destabilize Montenegro, the opposition SNP (pro-Belgrade) claims that the blockade was induced by the introduction of the parallel currency in Montenegro.
School strike over low salaries, which began on 31 January, is continuing, in which about 900 schools are offering shortened classes. It is reported that some 150 of these schools have now completely suspended classes.
On 8 March, the Government of Japan announced the following grant aid for "grass roots" projects: USD 68,616 for IDP accommodations in Bujanovac area, through the Association for Aid and Relief; USD 70,469 for the construction of temporary shelter in Kosovo, through the Peace Winds Japan; and USD 29,447 for installing ultrasound-diagnostic apparatus in the Health Center of Kursumlija, through the Japan International Volunteer Center.
For additional information, please contact: Ms. Kayo Gotoh, HAO/Analysis, OCHA Belgrade
Address: Kneza Milosa 68/II,
11000 Belgrade, FRY
Telephone: (381)(011) 3614-367/368; Fax: 682-963; Email: email@example.com
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.