Kosovo is anticipating a warmer weekend: Kosovo is anticipating a warmer weekend with the planned start-up of Kosovo A power plant's Unit 3 which should start producing up to 110 megawatts of electricity sometime tonight, UNMIK said in a statement today. Unit 1 of Kosovo B should go on line tomorrow, producing another 230 megawatts of power. This should give a total of some 450 megawatts of power, produced locally over the weekend, in addition to imported electricity which is just over 100 megawatts. The damage at Kosovo B's Unit 2 caused by a fire on Monday night is believed to be extensive. Experts from the company that constructed the plant are scheduled to arrive from Zagreb, Croatia, today to do a full assessment of the damage, but preliminary estimates are that between three and five weeks will be needed to repair the unit. Also today, technical experts are scheduled to arrive from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to work on how to use its power grid to enable power committed by Greece to enter Kosovo.
Meanwhile, Norwegian deminers are clearing the ground between Orahovac and the Macedonian border -- the major transporter of energy from Macedonia -- so that repairs can continue on that vital line. Another demining team from Zimbabwe, Mintech, is also clearing areas around power lines and pylons. The team, which is using mine-sniffing dogs, is expected complete the task in the next two weeks.
Nearly 300 judges to be sworn in next week: UNMIK will next week swear in 297 judges and prosecutors as well as the 238 lay assessors appointed by SRSG Kouchner on 29 December of last year. UNMIK said today that the officials were among 771 who applied for the position. The Technical Advisory Commission on the Judiciary, composed of Kosovar and international legal experts, conducted 560 interviews and recommended 328 judges and prosecutors and 238 lay judges. Based on further screening by legal experts, Dr. Kouchner made his appointments.
By the beginning of March, a second round of recruitment for judicial personnel begins for 100 more judges and prosecutors, who will bring the total of appointed judges to 400.
Kosovo Protection Corps to be formally established on 19 January: The Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) will be formally established on 19 January when 43 senior Corps leaders will be sworn in, UNMIK said today. They will make a pledge of honour to commit themselves to the betterment of their community. KPC commander Agim Ceku, along with SRSG Bernard Kouchner and KFOR Commander General Klaus Reinhardt will speak at the ceremony. The remainder of Corps members will be appointed by the end of January. KPC is expected to be fully operational by September of the year 2000.
KPC, with 3,000 active members and up to 2,000 reservists, was created as an element in the transformation process of the KLA. The intent of UNMIK and KFOR was to provide the former combatants with opportunities to contribute to the well-being of Kosovo as well as for meaningful civilian employment. IOM, which coordinated the process of KPC testing and recruitment, screened more than 18,500 KLA soldiers and continues to work on creating and identifying private employment for former combatants.
Interim Administrative Council meets to select co-heads of six departments: The Interim Administrative Council (IAC) met today to select co-heads for six of the seven departments agreed upon at the last IAC meeting, UNMIK reported today. Those six departments are Budget and Finance, Justice, Trade and Industry, Local Administration, Reconstruction, and Education and Science. Membership to these six departments was allocated two each to the LDK, the PPDK and the LBD. Their representatives will suggest their candidates today. Likewise, UNMIK, the EU and Civil Administration Pillars will submit their candidates. The IAC will also finalize the list of candidates to the enlarged KTC.
UNMIK Police reports a "stable" security situation: The general security situation in Kosovo is "stable", UNMIK Police reported today. The police are aggressively investigating the murder of the four members of a Bosniak family murdered in Prizren on 10 January. A team of 60 police specialists has been assigned to the case and is being assisted by KFOR.
In the past three weeks, UNMIK Police has made seven house arrests and house searches in Urosevac in the Gnjilane region. Police said these searches resulted in the disbanding of three burglary rings. Twenty arrests have been made, which have solved 41 burglary cases in the Urosevac area. A considerable amount of stolen property has been recovered and more is expected. UNMIK Police is also investigating six packs of heroin found in a house in Gnjilane during a joint search conducted yesterday by KFOR and UNMIK police.
In the Mitrovica region, approximately 100 Serbs demonstrated in front of the court building on 12 January. UNMIK Police regional headquarters in North Mitrovica is using the building. The demonstration was held to protest the appointments of 48 Albanian judges.
Restrictions at border crossing relaxed: The restrictions of mid-week at the border crossing at General Jankovic have been relaxed and it now takes about one hour to cross the border. The Globocica crossing has re-opened but the road in Kosovo leading to it is icy.
Kouchner accepts gift of 11 snowplows from European Union: SRSG Bernard Kouchner today accepted a gift of 11 snowplows from the European Union. Two of these will be used to clear Pristina streets; two will work at the airport and seven others will be deployed by KFOR to clear major routes throughout Kosovo. Humanitarian assistance
UNHCR organizes return of Kosovo refugees from Europe and beyond: UNHCR has organized repatriation of refugees to Kosovo from Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. The agency said today that repatriation started last Monday with 144 persons from Switzerland. In the last four days 1,008 returning refugees have come back to Kosovo via flights into Skopje airport and over 125,000 refugees have taken part in organized repatriation since last year, some over land, but the vast majority by air, via Skopje and Pristina airports. On 18 January, flights to Kosovo's Slatina Airport will resume, with a German Government-chartered DC-9 flying in with an expected 102 returnees. UNHCR and IOM expect some 5,200 returnees this month - all refugees or asylum-seekers. Of the total, some 2,550 returnees are coming in from Switzerland and some 1,280 from Germany. Returnees from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, France, Finland, New Zealand, Austria, Spain are also expected this month.
UNHCR prepares to assist people without power: UNHCR has 30,000 blankets on hand and another 100,000 blankets on the way for distribution to people affected by the power shortage. The agency has some 12,000 wood-burning, multi-purpose stoves in stock. It is also shipping some 63,500 mats, 380,000 thermal coats and some 400 blowers to be used to heat sports centres and other large facilities. UNHCR also opened a shelter this week in the Glogovac region for people who cannot stay in their communities or on their property. The shelter is capable of sheltering some 1,000 persons. Each of the rooms there is heated with a wood stove.