Last year, in September and October, Switzerland flew about 500 heifers, cows and bulls to Kosovo, in order to increase the numbers of livestock that had been decimated by the war and to supply the needy population with milk. In their new pastures things seemed to go extremely well for the animals. The cows, at any rate, appeared contented: the colony of Swiss cows nearly doubled to 900.
Based on last year's success, the Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) in collaboration once again with the Federal Office for Agriculture, the Swiss Farmers Union, Stockbreeding Associations and the Federal Veterinary Office carries out the second round. From now until the autumn a total of 1000 cows will be flown to Kosovo, 764 being airlifted in the course of this spring alone. The first flight of the year 2000 takes place on March 29: in the presence of representatives of the media, the Swiss Farmers Union, the Federal Office for Agriculture, the Federal Veterinary Office and the SDC, the first 63 animals will take to the air.
The two-hour flight - like last year in a DC-8 specialised in animal transport chartered from "African Airways" (Zimbabwe) - is more animal-friendly than the much longer journey by rail or road. Specialised staff accompanies the animals on their flight from Zurich to Pristina. After their arrival in Kosovo, the animals will be accommodated for a few days in transit stables to then be handed over directly to the chosen farmers. Priority will be given to families with many children. Further criteria for the distribution of the animals to needy families are loss of livestock during the war as well as the guarantee of appropriate animal husbandry skills.
On site, the operation will be attended and supervised by agricultural experts from the SDC division of Humanitarian Aid and the Swiss Disaster Relief Unit (HA + SDR) in co-operation with the Veterinary Centre of the town of Djakova/Djakovica. This year's budget for the operation amounts to about four million francs. The costs will be borne jointly by the SDC and the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOA).