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Kosovo: continuous cycle of violence and displacement

Briefing notes

Kosovo: continuous cycle of violence and displacement

9 March 1999

Less than a week before the Kosovo peace talks are scheduled to resume in France, the situation on the ground keeps deteriorating. It is marked by a continuous cycle of violence and displacement. On Monday, residents of several villages near Vucitrn along the Pristina-Kosovska Mitrovica road fled after the Yugoslav army moved into the area at the foot of the Drenica mountain. UNHCR staff saw several houses on fire in the village of Pirca. Five busloads of displaced persons left the villages and were headed for Mitrovica town. Overall up to 1,600 people were believed to be on the run.

The shelling Monday of villages around Mijalic, presumably sparked by the kidnapping and killing of two Serbs last week, drove hundreds more villagers from their homes.

UNHCR's efforts to evacuate an estimated 200 people stuck on a mountain slope near the town of Kacanik close to the Macedonian border have been frustrated by fighting in the area. Our original attempt to rescue the group on Friday was blocked by the KLA rebels. UNHCR is worried about the people, especially children and the elderly exposed for many days now to harsh winter conditions.