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UN Kosovo operation needs clearer objectives and sufficient funding, Security Council told

Briefing a private meeting of the Security Council today, the head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Dr. Bernard Kouchner, said the United Nations work in Kosovo lacked clear political objectives and sufficient resources.
"At the present time, the Serbs from Kosovo need reassurance and the Albanians from Kosovo need to have faith in the future," he said. "However, [Security Council] resolution 1244 on the establishment and objectives of UNMIK doesn't specify the institutional arrangements necessary for the autonomy that it proposes."

To empower UNMIK to progress in its work, Dr. Kouchner proposed the creation of an interim constitution, followed by an interim government which would guarantee the protection of all the province's ethnic groups.

But protection is not enough, he said. "If we hope to build democracy in Kosovo, we must do more than ensure the safety of all its residents. We must allocate the necessary resources to accomplish the job."

Dr. Kouchner said it was "unacceptable" for the UN mission have to beg for the funds that had been pledged to it by the international community, and for the UN not to be able to stick to its promise to the people of Kosovo of ensuring law and order and providing police protection. "If you are not completely behind our efforts, our efforts may fail," he told the Council.

In a press briefing after the Security Council meeting, Dr. Kouchner told journalists that the Council accepted the holding of local elections in Kosovo before the end of the year and the appointment of a person to be in charge of the "very important issue" of missing persons. Dr. Kouchner said that he also asked the Council to visit Kosovo, as they had done in East Timor.

The commander of the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR), General Reinhardt, who also briefed the Council today, stressed to the members the urgency of allocating resources to basic services in Kosovo. He pointed out that not only a police force was needed, but also a working and effective judicial system.

"On any given day, two out of three of my soldiers are out conducting security operations," but the attitude of hatred and intolerance that is imbedded cannot be over come by the military alone, he later told journalists.

Earlier in the day, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in Kosovo, Mr. Dennis McNamara, told a press briefing in New York that the humanitarian programme in Kosovo will be phased out over the coming months. Mr. McNamara said the Secretary-General has accepted a recommendation that the humanitarian component of UNMIK be phased out by mid-2000, as there should not be a need for a prolonged, large-scale humanitarian role after winter.

This will give way to the process of rebuilding and reconstruction, particularly shelter, housing, utilities and social welfare which will provide a safety net for vulnerable families, he said.