Secretary-General reports to Security Council on operations of KFOR: KFOR continued to deploy in the territory and at the end of November had approximately 48,000 troops in place, according to the latest monthly report (S/1999/1266) to the Security Council dated 20 December. Three countries -- Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Ukraine -- have completed their deployments during the period covered by the report (27 October-23 November). However, the deployment of Russian troops in the town of Orahovac continues to be hampered, despite the removal of roadblocks surrounding the town.
The report notes that the overall level of violence within the province continued to fall although it increased again towards the end of the reporting period. Ethnically motivated violence has increased in intensity, and arson, particularly of houses belonging to Serbs, has also continued. "The security situation for the various minorities in Kosovo remains precarious, and the protection of minorities remains one of the highest priorities of KFOR, " it said.
Kosovo strives to clear roads as snowfall disrupts flow of humanitarian aid: Following a major snowfall the Blace border between Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is blocked due to icy conditions and disabled vehicles clogging the roadway, disrupting the flow of humanitarian aid. Efforts are being made to clear the major roads. KFOR, which is spearheading the efforts, will also clear the secondary road from Pec to the Montenegro border to allow humanitarian aid to get through. KFOR has 50 modern snowplows and expects another 20 very soon. In addition, 2,000 tons of sand and salt have been delivered to control icy conditions.
UNMIK spokeswoman Daniela Razgonova told a press briefing in Pristina that the Tetova border, however, remains open but strongly advised drivers that only 4-wheel drive vehicles with chains should attempt to negotiate the Tetova crossing.
UNMIK Police reports decrease in murders and reports of kidnappings: UNMIK Police said today that the number of murders in Kosovo decreased from seven to four and reports of kidnappings from nine to six for the period 14-20 December. Assaults decreased dramatically from 34 to three and robberies from 18 to six. However, cases of arson increased from nine to 14, intimidations from 23 to 49 and auto thefts from 69 to 76.
As of 20 December, there were 1,938 UNMIK Police in Kosovo, including 172 border police. Of these, 615 officers are stationed in the Pristina region, 303 in the Prizren region, 91 in the Pec region, 243 in the Mitrovica region and 176 in the Gnjilane region.
UNMIK Police also reported that in the Pristina region about 100 Serbs demonstrated in Grancanica yesterday afternoon. They were protesting the arrest of a Serb suspected of throwing rocks at an Albanian bus. The crowd was dispersed peacefully after the suspect was released. Police also reported that two Albanian men were last night wounded, one of them fatally, in a shooting that occurred in Vitina in the Gnjilane region. Four suspects in the shooting are being held in custody.
UN Headquarters closes after earthquake: The UN Headquarters in Prizren has been closed until further notice following an earthquake that occurred this morning. Only essential staff will remain in the building until a full structural investigation is conducted. UN personnel reported that tiles fell off the walls during the tremors.
Pristina closes street to traffic for Christmas festivities: Pristina's Mother Theresa Street has been closed to traffic, including parked vehicles, on 24 December so that pedestrians can enjoy the Christmas festivities taking place there. The street will be closed again on New Year's eve from 6 a.m. until the following morning at 6 a.m.