UN official meets Macedonian Trade Minister on measures to ease border congestion: The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Economic Development and Reconstruction in Kosovo, Mr. Joly Dixon, this week met with Macedonian Trade Minister Nikola Gruevski to discuss measures to ease congestion at the border crossing between Kosovo and Macedonia. The two officials agreed the problem would be eased by spring when there will be less humanitarian traffic and more border crossing points with more customs officers deployed by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
A statement issued in Pristina today said they agreed on short-term measures to address the most acute problems. These included the opening of the KFOR bypass which may also be used by vehicles that do not need customs clearance, simplified controls of empty trucks leaving Kosovo and a 24-hour-day customs and border operation on both sides of the border at least for non-commercial traffic. They also agreed to cooperate on traffic management, increase temporarily UNMIK customs officials to clear traffic backlog, upgrade facilities on both sides and create customs clearance areas away from the border. One objective of the plan is to establish a "one-step customs clearance procedure". In addition, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernard Kouchner is planning to visit Macedonia and Albania on 2-3 December.
Humanitarian agencies set up Task Force to help displaced Kosovars in Serbia: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other agencies have set up a Task Force to deal with a looming shortage of accommodation for displaced people from Kosovo in Serbia. The Task Force, composed of UNHCR, ECHO, OXFAM, International Rescue Committee and the Swiss Disaster Relief, supported by the Yugoslav Federal Minister for Refugees, will identify potential accommodation sites throughout Serbia to help people who have no other place to stay, UNHCR said in a statement issued today.
According to government figures, there are more than 200,000 displaced people from Kosovo in Serbia - most of them Serbs. They joined some 500,000 previous refugees from Croatia and Bosnia, bringing the total number of refugees and internally displaced persons to an estimated 700,000 or more. "This huge number has led to an acute shortage of shelter and other assistance," UNHCR said. "Most of the displaced have been staying with host families, but many of those families can no longer afford to care for them."
Emergency repair kits supplied to repair homes: More than a third of Kosovo's homes -- some 120,000 houses in 2,000 villages and towns -- have been completely destroyed or damaged, the Office of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said today. More than 60,000 of the home are repairable and more than 40,000 emergency repair kits have been distributed by various agencies including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR). Agencies also plan to distribute more than 12,000 "expanded roofing kits" with beams and heavy roofing plastic. UNHCR and USAID have already distributed 4,6000 expanded roofing kits, some of which include windows and doors. Recipients of these kits are being asked to shelter 1-2 families.
Humanitarian Affairs also reported that 500 pre-fabricated units provided by the government of Japan are in the final assembly in several villages in the Mitrovica and Pec regions. In addition, UNHCR has identified temporary community shelters for 18,000 persons should Kosovars need temporary shelter during winter. Also more than 11,800 all-season tents have arrived in Kosovo and will be distributed to 60,000 persons waiting roofing kits and others who wish to remain on their property.
KFOR's support to the winterization programme: The Kosovo Force (KFOR) has been providing traffic control to facilitate the passage of trucks through the General Jankovic border between Kosovo and Macedonia, KFOR spokesman Major Roland Lavoie said in Pristina today. In November, KFOR built and opened the Blace bypass to alleviate the impact of KFOR traffic on limited road infrastructure. Over the last months, the agency has also cleared hundreds of kilometres of roads and railroads, including six bridges that needed heavy repairs. KFOR is also assisting in the distribution of 1,000 cubic metres of firewood and has helped to distribute 3000 tonnes of winter seeds to minorities and winterization materials to the remote village of Potoc, Major Lavoie said.
UNMIK concentrates on repairs to power plants in readiness for winter: Intensive repair work has been going on to improve the situation of utilities in Kosovo but "we can still expect new problems to surface, as the plants have not been properly maintained for ten years and many parts are proving dysfunctional", the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said today. UNMIK has concentrated on repairing the Kosovo power plants to make sure that the turbines remain functional throughout winter and that has been accomplished on the first unit of Kosovo B, UNMIK deputy spokeswoman Daniela Rozgonova said. The other unit of Kosovo B is awaiting new parts which could be here as early as 7 December, she said.
Marriage, birth and death registries distributed to all municipal administrators: Marriage, birth and death registries were distributed to all the municipal administrators all over Kosovo today, the Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Document Issuance and Control Service, Mr. Albrecht Conze said today in Pristina. This "will help us to unify and bring some more consistency and conformity to Civil Administration all over the territory," he said.
OSCE launches guidelines on NGO registration: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today launched in Pristina its handbook, "Guidelines on NGO Registration in Kosovo", as part of its work with the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society development. OSCE spokesman Ronald Bless said the handbook provides all NGOs operating in Kosovo with the information they need to formally register in Kosovo. The registration starts on 29 November at the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Civil documents Unit in Pristina. Copies of the handbook are available from any OSCE office in Kosovo in English, Albanian and Serbian.
Second police training course starts: The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Police Service School will start the second training course on 29 November, OSCE spokesman Ronald Bless said today in Pristina. Slightly more than 200 future members of the Kosovo Police Service will go through a nine-week training programme conducted by more than 100 international police instructors and local legal specialists.
Vehicle registration starts 30 November: Vehicle registration will start on Tuesday, 30 November, the Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Document Issuance and Control Service, Mr. Albrecht Conze said today in Pristina. "We seem to be on time"The only thing that poses a small question mark is whether we will have enough insurance companies ready by Tuesday morning to fulfill the requirements that we have established in order to provide third-party liability insurance, which a precondition of registration," he said. Insurance companies are required to have "a minimum requirement of capital" deposited in a bank and to have reinsurance before they can get a licence.
UNMIK Police reports a "relatively quiet" security situation: The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Police reported today a "relatively quiet" security situation over the past 24 hours, UNMIK deputy spokeswoman Daniela Rozgonova said in Pristina. One murder was reported in the Pec region and five houses were set on fire in the last two days, she said. During the week ending 20 November three murders were reported in Kosovo, the lowest number of murders per week since the beginning of the mission, Ms. Rozgonova said. "However, kidnappings increased to 10 during the week ending on 20 November, up from two reported the week before", she added.
Reconstruction and economic development
UNMIK receives its first license application from a commercial bank: On Monday, Pillar IV (Reconstruction and Economic Development) of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) received its first license application from a commercial bank, the Micro Enterprise Bank. The Bank is composed of various shareholders including public and private institutions assembled together by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the German Government. "We have asked for more information from the Bank, whose licence would ultimately be issued by the Banking and Payments Authority of Kosovo," said UNMIK deputy spokeswoman Daniel Rozgonova in a statement issued in Pristina today. "We expect this bank to be opened sometime early next year."