Kouchner welcomes decision by Serbs to join local administration: The head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, yesterday welcomed a decision by the Serb National Council of Gracanica to participate in the joint interim administrative bodies of the province as observers for three months. The Council said they would decide after three months on whether to participate fully, depending on improved security for the Serb communities. The Serbs in Mitrovica will not participate. Dr. Kouchner said the decision would enable the building of a democratic and tolerant Kosovo as well as the return of those Serbs who fled over the past nine months.
The Serb National Council nominated Dr. Rada Trajkovic as observer to the Interim Administrative Council, Father Sava Janjic, Mr. Randel Nojkic and Mr. Dragan Velic as the Serb observers in the KosovoTransitional Council, and Mr. Dragan Nikolic as the co-head of the Department of Agriculture. The co-head of the Department of Labour is also reserved for the Serbs but has not been named.
UNMIK rebuilds more than 2,700 houses: UNMIK has rebuilt 2,767 houses at a cost of $9 million in Kosovo since August last year. A UNMIK spokesperson said today the house-rebuilding programme benefited more than 29,1000 people in three regions -- Mitrovica, Peje and Pristina. There were 1,680 houses rebuilt in Mitrovica, 728 in Peja and 359 in Pristina. The government of Japan donated $5.8 million and that of France 20 million French francs ($2.92 million) for the reconstruction programme.
UNMIK makes urgent appeal for help in garbage collection: UNMIK today appealed urgently for assistance in garbage collection in Pristina where the situation, though not yet of high risk to public health, has affected the quality of life. The expanded population of Pristina, the lack of equipment and the need for more skilled workers has aggravated the situation. UNMIK estimates additional needs in the waste sector for the rest of the year to be about 3.7 million deutsche marks ($1.8 million) and has contacted municipalities around Western Europe seeking cooperation and assistance. The waste company, Higenika Teknica, needs more personnel and a training programme. It currently has 215 workers, compared to 340 before the Kosovo conflict. There is also an urgent need for trucks, containers, compactors, tractors, bulldozers, tools and protective clothing.
Kosovo collects over $1.6 million in taxes in one week: UNMIK collected last week a record amount of revenues from customs and other taxes amounting to 3.3 million deutsche marks ($1.62 million). Of the total, 1.4 million deutsche marks ($685, 300) came from vehicle registration duties and the rest came from other forms of revenues, such as customs and taxes. The revenues go into the Kosovo Consolidated Budget.
UNMIK Police reports three murders over past week: UNMIK police today reported that there have been three murders in Kosovo over the past week, compared to six the previous week. Victims of this week's murders were Bosniak, Albanian and Roma. Arson cases, however, have increased to 24 from 20 in the previous week. Eleven of these were reported in the Pristina area, two in Prizren and 11 in Gnjilane. Most of the cases involved Serb-owned property. Police also arrested 12 people for major crimes.
Over the past week the situation was generally stable, police said, but there were some specific incidents of tension in various locations. In Vrbovac on Saturday, a group of Kosovo Serbs set up a roadblock following the alleged attempted murder of a Serb. Police said several civilian vehicles were attacked and a Kosovo Albanian sustained severe injuries. Again on Saturday, detainees in the Pristina Detention Centre began breaking cell windows, protesting against conditions in the detention centre. The detainees complained about the quality of the food, the fact that they cannot smoke, their limited access to a doctor and to the Pristina Court. Police said smoking was banned in all detention centres in Kosovo and access to medical help was available. They also said the quality of the food was adequate and they were looking into the availability of officers of the court, as well as the availability of more doctors. Also on Saturday, there was a burglary in Urosevac, where a large quantity of money was stolen from the offices of the nongovernmental organization, ADRA.
Police said that on 29 March an LDK (Kosovo Democratic Party) member, travelling with his son, was brutally beaten in the Mitrovica region in Marina by unidentified men in black masks and armed with AK-47 rifles. He was the second member of the LDK to be assaulted since the assassination of the local president late last year. In another incident on 31 March, two men started shooting at each other with AK-47 rifles after a fight broke out in a bar in Srbica, in Mitrovica region. Two bystanders were wounded and police have identified one suspect, who is a member of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). In another incident, in Prizren, an interpreter was stopped on his way home and allegedly intimidated by a mid-level KPC leader. Three men wearing KPC uniforms, according to UNMIK police who are investigating both cases, later assaulted him.
UNMIK border police took over control of the Vrbnica border crossing with Albania from KFOR.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.