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UNMIK Summary of Press Briefing of 11 Feb 2000

Format
News and Press Release
Source
Posted
Originally published
UNMIK Spokeswoman Ms Nadia Younes
Minorities Report: Immediately following our four pillar and KFOR briefing, Deputy Special Representatives Dennis McNamara and Daan Everts will introduce their most recent report, Assessment on the Situation of Ethnic Minorities in Kosovo. Mr. McNamara heads Pillar I, Humanitarian Assistance, and Mr. Everts heads Pillar III--Democratization and Institution-Building. The report will be available on the tables outside following the briefing.

Bernard Kouchner, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, will go to Mitrovica this afternoon, sometime after 2:30. The program is still being worked on. We would ask those interested to go to find their own ways of getting there. We would like to warn you also that there is quite a bit of demonstration apparently underway, so those interested should leave pretty soon after the briefing and, in Mitrovica, get in touch with Ms Beatrice Lacoste there, at the local UNMIK HQ.

The Interim Administrative Council (IAC) is currently meeting at UNMIK headquarters. On the agenda this morning is a review of the situation in Mitrovica and measures to be taken to reinforce the security. The IAC will also assess the dissolution of parallel structures and will review draft regulations on political party registration, the Central Civil Registry and the Central Election Commission.

The Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) was inaugurated last Wednesday in its new expanded format. At that meeting, they were briefed by UNMIK Police Commissioner Sven Fredericksen and KFOR General Louis Le Miere on the security situation in Mitrovica. A press release is available.

And the Police report. Around Kosovo, 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 no injury to people, but only property damage. There is a daily report from the Police available outside the briefing room.

On other Police matters, since yesterday there were two murders in Kosovo--one near the village of Llajshure in the Pristina region, where a male of as yet undetermined ethnicity was stabbed at about 8 p.m. last night. The other incident, in Urosevac, involved an Albanian family who were tied up in their home by 3-5 masked and armed Albanian men, who shot and killed one member of the family. The Police is investigating.

Last night, four prisoners escaped from the Pristina detention center. UNMIK police are investigating. The prisoners include a murder suspect, an armed robbery suspect, a man suspected of armed assault and an alleged thief. I understand there are profiles of the prisoners outside.

Finally, at the Pristina Airport, UNMIK police have taken over from KFOR the investigative authority. This in essence means that UNMIK police are now responsible for law and order at the 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.

The Civil Documents Unit at UNMIK headquarters is providing travel documents in special cases to Kosovo residents wishing to travel abroad. These can be requested in the Judicial Building on the Ground Floor, Room #10, between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

People who want to travel to Macedonia or Albania should present identification, such as a driving license or passport, and two personal photos. A medical certificate should be presented for those seeking medical assistance in Macedonia or Albania.

Those who urgently need to travel to other countries should have a valid passport and should seek a visa in the consular office of the concerned country in either Skopje or Tirana. The Civil Documents unit can issue a letter of support for a visa application based on the proof of necessity to travel abroad.

For those who don't have valid passports or have expired ones, the FRY Office in Pristina should be contacted for passport renewals or obtaining a new passport. However, UNMIK will consider emergency cases. To receive an Emergency Travel Document, applicants should have a letter from the institution asking UNMIK to approve a travel document for the applicant, back-up documentation explaining the reason for travel, and a visa-waiver from the Skopje or Tirana Embassy of the country the applicant wishes to visit.

KFOR Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Philip Anido

On Wednesday, I reported that there would be a major snow storm. Obviously, there was none, so that was a mistake of our meteorologists. I apologize.

Yesterday, a company of the British Armoured Infantry moved into Mitrovica to reinforce and work in cooperation with Multinational Brigade North. These troops will patrol the Western Bridge area for the next five days.

Between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. yesterday, approximately 200 Albanians gathered on both sides of the Ibar River to watch the arrival of the KFOR British troops.

Last night after 10 p.m., KFOR French troops stopped four Albanian men for breaking the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. They were found to carry three AK-47's, five magazines and ammunition in their car. Three of the men were turned over to UNMIK Police. No additional weapons were found in the subsequent search of their homes.

During the weeks ahead, the Commander of KFOR, General Reinhardt, is reinforcing Multinational Brigade North in Mitrovica, and in its outskirts, with companies of mechanized and armoured infantry peacekeepers from other KFOR Brigades. The reinforcement operation is an integral part of KFOR's readiness and training capability, which ensures that our soldiers are prepared to react to any contingency.

It is vital for the citizens and leaders within Mitrovica to be aware of the excellent and professional cooperation within KFOR, as well as the multinational make-up of our force. KFOR is one force, and our primary mission is to maintain the peace and to provide a safe and secure environment for everyone. Allegations that KFOR favours one group over another are malicious and absolutely false. We are here for everyone. KFOR Multinational Brigade North is patrolling the streets in force to reassure the population that law and order will be maintained and normal life in the city restored.

The curfew will remain in force in the foreseeable future.

UNHCR Spokesman Mr. Peter Kessler

As you are aware there will be a joint UNHCR/OSCE press-conference on the question of minorities immediately following this briefing.

There is also a new report -- Kosovo refugee crisis: an independent evaluation of UNHCR's emergency preparedness and response -- which is available on the UNHCR web site. Copies of the conclusions and recommendations, as well as the UNHCR comments, are available outside. As most of you are aware, the speed of the crisis was unprecedented in modern history. It was a massive crisis, and the UNHCR accepts the bulk of the findings which are critical in some areas.

This week in Kosovo the UNHCR, with the support of UNMIK helicopter team, 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 villages are -- and, please, pardon my pronunciation -- Vllahiga, Matheva, Medonica Djedi and Selatz. And that operation is ongoing today, there have been four days with the UNMIK helicopter team delivering food and rigid shelters together with carpenters to assemble the shelters. These are the people who already received food aid last autumn. They apparently needed more food assistance, and some people who were staying in the remains of their homes will find better homes by the delivery of these rigid shelters.

With regard to Mitrovica, the UNHCR staff reported that smaller numbers of Albanians continued to leave the northern side. More than 600 have been registered with the UNHCR to date. Smaller numbers of people are going directly to their friends and relatives in the south. These numbers are hard to estimate, they could be in the range of 50 to 100 persons, possibly more.

Questions and answers

Q: UNMIK has announced that by the end of April and the beginning of May it will start the registration of population of Kosovars. How will UNMIK do it in the Serb enclaves, especially to the north of Mitrovica?

NY: The civil registration will start on a pilot basis here in Pristina in the beginning of March, and then will go territory-wide in the beginning of April. We don't have more detailed information on this today and we don't have any experts with us today either, but when the time comes, we will be able to give you a much more complete briefing.

Q: According to the UNHCR, how many Serbs are living today in Kosovo? Do you have lists of Serbs who committed crimes during the bombing campaign?

PK: The UNHCR is not a registration agency, and we are not doing nor will not be doing any registration. This belongs to UNMIK and the OSCE and will be taking place some time by the end of this year. Some estimates on the minority groups are contained in the UNHCR/OSCE assessment report which is available outside, but these are very rough estimates. As for the alleged criminals, the UNHCR is not a law enforcement agency. That is the responsibility of both KFOR and the UNMIK Police. But I wish to stress that the allegations and suggestions that appeared in the local press recently that the UNHCR is transporting the alleged war criminals are extremely upsetting. We find that to be irresponsible journalism. We hope that in the future we'll have at least our comments appear alongside such reports in the local dailies.

Q: Have you made any arrests of Serbs with regard to events of Thursday night in Mitrovica? If not, why so? There were names and pictures of Serb paramilitaries published in some local newspapers.

PA: We have not made any arrests with regard to the events in Mitrovica. The investigators are working very hard to identify the people and the situations. When I'll have the information, I'll pass it on.

Q: Is it true that Dr. Kouchner has submitted a report to the UN on the events in Mitrovica? Can we have some details of this report?

NY: There are practically monthly reports to the Security Council, through the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on the situation in Kosovo. These reports cover a wide range of the activities of UNMIK and its pillars. Of course, the security situation is one of the aspects of such reports. But these are not public reports, they are private.