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Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: UNHCR begins delivering winter supplies

Briefing notes

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: UNHCR begins delivering winter supplies

15 October 1999

UNHCR has begun delivering this month winter supplies to refugees and internally displaced people in Serbia (non-Kosovo) and Montenegro.

The delivery of coal and heating oil began this week to benefit approximately 50,000 displaced people in 400 collective centres throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. So far, UNHCR has purchased 10,000 tons of coal and 5,000 tons of heating oil out of an estimated need of 18,000 tons and 10,000 tons, respectively.

As a supplement to collective heating systems, firewood will be distributed to 15,000 families by the Catholic Relief Service.

In addition to fuel, UNHCR has resumed the delivery of fresh food this month, through CARE International, UNHCR's partner aid agency in FRY. Up to 35,000 refugees and 15,000 displaced people from Kosovo living in collective centres will each receive about 2 kg of food items (vegetables, fruits, jam, pasta and powder milk) plus 3 eggs per week.

The fresh food delivery to collective centres is normally done only during the winter season starting November. This year, UNHCR had planned to continue the food delivery throughout the year, to compensate for the loss of seasonal jobs in summer due to the declining economy in the host country. With the abduction of the CARE workers this June, however, the delivery had been suspended temporarily.

The approaching winter is feared to be particularly harsh for people in FRY, with the predicted shortages of electricity, food and other basic commodities. The UNHCR Office in Belgrade is gearing up to help the refugees and internally displaced people in FRY to get through the cold weather - for example, 1,000 winterised tents have been procured mainly for displaced people from Kosovo who may find themselves in desperate need for shelter.

UNHCR meanwhile calls on the international community to give attention to the humanitarian needs of the wider public to avert a humanitarian crisis, as warned by the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier this week.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) hosts over 500,000 refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is in addition to some 200,000 people newly displaced from Kosovo this year.