Violence erupts in Mitrovica leaving 40 wounded: Violence erupted today between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the northern part of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica leaving some 40 people wounded. According to KFOR, the violence was sparked by two small angry groups of people who were exchanging insults in the Bosnia quarter of northern Mitrovica. A crowd gathered and others joined the dispute on both sides. Shots were then fired and grenades thrown into the crowd. KFOR reported that those injured included 20 Serbs, 5 Albanians and 16 KFOR French troops and gendarmerie. Ten of the injured have already been released from the hospital.
Secretary-General appeals to Member States to provide UNMIK with necessary support: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to Member States to provide UNMIK with the necessary support in finances, police and other resources. Mr. Annan, who was responding to questions on the political future of Kosovo during a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York, said the support has been "very slow in coming". But he noted that the European Union recently gave 10 million ecus ($9.6 million), after giving 20 million ecus ($19.2 million) before, and was expected to give 35 million ecus ($33.6) shortly. Mr. Annan said the situation had improved in many parts of Kosovo but conceded, "We have pockets of problems," noting especially that "we need to stem the atrocities committed against minority groups."
His comments followed a joint briefing of the Security Council yesterday by the head UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, and the KFOR commander, General Klaus Reinhardt. Dr. Kouchner told the Council that the United Nations work in Kosovo lacked clear political objectives and sufficient resources. Mr. Annan reiterated Dr. Kouchner's views and said, "If the future political settlement is not clear, it is going to be difficult for us to get these two communities to deal with each other and with us." He said "the ambiguities are becoming clearer" and "we are trying to do our best under very difficult circumstances."
A second international prosecutor for Mitrovica sworn: The second international prosecutor for Mitrovica, Michael Hartman of the Unite States, was sworn in on Saturday, UNMIK said in a statement issued yesterday.
Proof of insurance required for car registration: UNMIK said yesterday that car registration will no longer be accepted without proof of insurance. There are now two insurance companies licensed to sell insurance in Kosovo: an American company called AIG, or Adriatic Insurance Group, and a company from Albania, INSIG.
First four departments of the Joint Administrative Structure established: The first four departments of the Joint Interim Administrative Structure (JIAS) were officially launched on 5 March. Those departments were already operational. They are the Health and Social Services, Education and Science, Local Administration and the Central Fiscal Authority.
Waiting area for border-crossing trucks to be established: UNMIK today said it will establish on 13 March a waiting area for freight trucks from Kosovo on their way to the Blace border crossing with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. By keeping a large number of trucks off the main road, traffic as well as safety in the area of the Blace border crossing will improve considerably, UNMIK said. The Sicapor Factory in Kacanik, Kosovo, will provide the parking space for these trucks at a fee not exceeding 50 deutsche marks (about $26) for one freight truck per 24 hours. KFOR will escort truck convoys from the parking area to the Blace border crossing.
Kosovo to commemorate International Women's Day: UNMIK and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will commemorate the International Women's Day on Wednesday with activities related to this year's theme of "Peace." The commemoration will include UNMIK radio interviews and a photographic display on women in Kosovo, and drawings by Kosovo school children on the theme "Violence-Free Kosovo".
UNMIK Police reports an increase in crime: UNMIK Police, in its weekly update, reported yesterday an increase in several types of crimes, except for murders (the murder rate remained at 4 a week). Kidnapping increased from 1 to 5, assault from 43 to 55, intimidation from 26 to 55, robbery from 10 to 14, illegal possession of weapons from 22 to 31, criminal damage from 22 to 33 incidents, arson from 9 to 15, burglary from 81 to 92, and auto theft from 75 to 78 reports. There were decreases in evictions which fell from 50 to 39, and in common theft (from 89 to 76). The number of arrests decreased from 99 to 84.
Increasing number of ethnic Albanians flee southern Serbia into Kosovo: The number of ethnic Albanians fleeing their homes in southern Serbia climbed sharply yesterday when 626 people registered at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) field office in the eastern Kosovo town of Gnjilane. The new arrivals said they fled because of continuing tensions in southern Serbia, near the provincial border with Kosovo, where an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 ethnic Albanians remain, UNHCR said in a statement issued in Geneva today. A total of 1,658 ethnic Albanians from southern Serbia have registered as internally displaced with UNHCR in Gnjilane since January. But UNHCR believes the number could be much higher because many of the displaced do not register.
UNHCR resumes bus service in Pristina and Gnjilane area: UNHCR said today it resumed operation of its bus route in the Gnjilane area on Friday and will resume in Pristina today. UNHCR operated eight routes around Kosovo aimed at allowing freedom of movement for all ethnic groups. The bus operation was suspended on 2 February following a rocket attack on one of its buses near Mitrovica that killed two Serbs and wounded three others.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.