UNHCR reports widening ethnic divide in Mitrovica in wake of violence: The recent ethnic violence in Kosovo's divided city of Mitrovica has led to an exodus of ethnic Albanians from the city's Serb-populated northern half, deepening the division of the city along ethnic lines, UNHCR said today. UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a press briefing in Geneva that if the exodus continued, northern Mitrovica could soon be emptied of its ethnic Albanian population, which numbered only 4,500 before the outbreak of violence last week.
Since then, some 630 Albanians have registered with UNHCR, but the agency believes the actual number of those who have fled is much higher, as most people leave quietly to join friends and family in other parts of Kosovo, without bothering to register with the UN, Mr Redmond said. The agency estimates that half of the ethnic Albanian population of central Mitrovica has already left. UNHCR staff on the ground report that property vacated by fleeing Albanians is often looted and sometimes occupied by ethnic Serbs.
UNHCR delivers 33 tons of food to needy villagers: UNHCR, with the support of a UNMIK helicopter team, this week delivered 33 metric tons of food and eight rigid shelters to the residents of five villages in the mountains to the west of Mitrovica. The team included carpenters to assemble the shelters. The villages are Vllahiga, Matheva, Medonica Djedi and Selatz.
Minorities report says insecurity and impunity continue unabated: Minorities in Kosovo continue to suffer violence and insecurity in a climate of impunity, according to the latest assessment report of the situation of ethnic minorities in Kosovo released today. The report is the fourth assessment carried out jointly by UNHCR and OSCE. Mr. Dennis McNamara, UNHCR Head in Kosovo, who introduced the report in a press briefing in Pristina, said although there has been an improvement in recent months with overall crime, there is a general cycle of violence and impunity. The Head of the OSCE in Kosovo, Ambassador Daan Everts said the impunity that prevails is related to the lack of law enforcement and judicial capacity. The strength of the international police in the province was inadequate and the quality of the judiciary "very marginal," he said.
UNMIK Police reports an increase in attacks aimed at minorities: UNMIK Police today reported that since the events of late last week in and around Mitrovica, there have been an increase in explosions, arson and grenade attacks aimed at minorities or their property. Most resulted in property damage and not injury to people. Police also reported that since yesterday there were two murders. An unknown male was stabbed last night near the village of Llajshure in the Pristina region. In Urosevac, a gang of masked and armed Albanian men tied up an Albanian family in their home and shot and killed one family member.
UNMIK takes over responsibility for policing the airport: UNMIK Police has taken over the responsibility law and order at the Pristina airport. Their duties include arrest, investigation, internal security and immigration. Thirty-eight police officers have been deployed there. KFOR remains responsible for patrolling the airport.
For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.