Reconstruction and development
Kouchner meets top Albanian officials to discuss reconstruction of Kosovo: The Head of the Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Dr. Bernard Kouchner yesterday met with high-level Albanian Government officials in Tirana to discuss the reconstruction of Kosovo. The officials included President Rexhep Meidani, Prime Minster Ilir Meta, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ben Blushi, a press statement issued by UNMIK in Pristina today said. The Albanian officials expressed their support for democracy and tolerance in Kosovo, the statement said. The question of fighting illegal trafficking and other crimes was also discussed, the statement added. Dr Kouchner agreed with the Albanian officials on the need for a regular exchange of visits by UNMIK economic advisers, police and other technical experts.
Prime Minister Meta raised the issue of opening a representational office in Pristina, staffed by experts in education, law and finance, to support the work of UNMIK. Dr Kouchner also discussed with President Meidani the situation in Mitrovica, the importance of holding local elections as soon as possible, and the fate of missing Kosovars and detainees.
Temporary Albanian school opens in Plemetina: Some 100 Albanian school children will attend classes next Monday at a newly built school in Plemetina, a statement issued by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said today. The school, Pandeli Sotiri Sub-Branch Plemetina, is a temporary facility built to avoid confrontation between the deadlocked Albanian and Serb communities in Plemetina. In approving the temporary measure last month, UNMIK Head Bernard Kouchner said the arrangement was needed for the safety and the security of the children. The school is located across from a Serb school in the same area.
Power company to issue electricity bills: The Kosovo Power Company (KEK) will begin issuing electricity bills next week and consumers will have 15 days to pay up or be charged interest, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said today. A flat rate will be applied for consumers without a meter or an inaccessible meter. "Those who do not pay their bills could face having their electricity supply cut off," the statement said. In another development, commercial enterprises and large institutions started paying bills yesterday for garbage collection to Higjiena Teknika, the company handling waste collection in Pristina. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said today that it was among those who paid their bills. Others included the World Health Organization and the Grand Hotel. The fees will be used to make garbage collection self-sustaining by next year, UNMIK said.
Vehicle insurance proceeds "smoothly": Vehicle registration is proceeding smoothly in Pristina, with 393 cars having been registered so far, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported today. The temporary registration, which began on 30 November, is being carried out so far without requiring vehicle owners to produce an insurance certificate. "We are still facing the problem that none of the insurance companies that have come forward can meet the requirements set by UNMIK to sell third-party insurance," UNMIK explained.
UNMIK Police reports unearths a "substantial" cache of weapons: Acting on information, the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Police and Finnish KFOR troops on Tuesday unearthed a large stockpile of weapons from two homes in Stimlje occupied by former UCK (Kosovo Liberation Army), UNMIK reported today. The arms included anti-tank rockets, anti-personnel mines, AK-47s, Tommy guns, several thousands of rounds of ammunition, smoke grenades, surveillance cameras, UCK and MUP (Ministry of Interior) uniforms, body armour, gas masks and field phones. UNMIK Police, declining to give details as investigations were still going on, said the number of weapons found so far was "substantial". In another incident, KFOR troops confiscated four AK-47s, 13 rifles, two machine pistols, six AP mines, two 66 mm anti-tank weapons and large amounts of ammunitions following a search operation in Malopoljee, seven kilometres northwest of Urosevac, according to KFOR spokesman Major Ole Irgens.
UNMIK Police also reported several other incidents including the burning of a house belonging to a Serb on 1 December and two related murders, which police are investigating, that occurred in Podujevo, all in the Pristina region. The police reported the discovery of a body of a Bosnian male in the river near Brolic in the Pec region on 2 December. Also in Pec, a house belonging to a Bosnian male was set on fire, an elderly Roma couple assaulted during a robbery attempt, and a Bosnian male severely beaten and by two unknown men in Vitomirica, UNMIK police said.
Humanitarian agencies distribute "massive" materials: UN and other aid agencies have distributed "massive" materials including shelter and food to help Kosovars through the winter. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its main shelter partners, ECHO and USAID, have distributed enough shelter kits to provide a dry room for some 350,000 Kosovars through the winter months. This is possibly the largest such programme anywhere in the world, UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler told journalists in Pristina today. "The scale of materials distributed in Kosovo is massive -- enough plastic sheeting alone to wrap Pristina several times over -- and it's still coming into the region," he said.
The World Food Programme and USAID's Food for Peace programme have distributed food to some 900,000 vulnerable families across the province, who receive some 15,000 tonnes of food per month. "Well over half of the population of Kosovo is getting food aid, " said Mr. Kessler. In addition to shelter kits, some 20,000 wood stoves have been distributed and more than 8,000 families have received three cubic feet of firewood each. The total firewood distribution across Kosovo will be some 93,000 cubic metres, he said. Clothing is also being distributed to thousands of women and children, with some 65,000 boots, 750,000 blankets and 380,000 mattresses already distributed.
KFOR delivers 725 cubic metres of firewood to Serbs in Polje: Last week the Kosovo Force (KFOR) distributed 725 cubic metres of firewood to the Serbs in Kosovo Polje. The goal is to transport 1,200 cubic metres (933 tonnes) of firewood to the town, KFOR spokesman Major Ole Irgens said today. KFOR has also delivered new fire engines to the fire brigade in Prizren. The engines were donated by the non-governmental organization GTZ Brandenburg, Major Irgens said. Two fire fighters from the German Army will train the Prizren firemen and will also train personnel from other fire brigades in Suva Reka, Malisevo and Dragas.