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Kosovo: McNamara to meet Mitrovica leaders

Briefing notes

Kosovo: McNamara to meet Mitrovica leaders

8 February 2000

Yesterday (Monday), 157 Kosovo Albanians left the predominantly Serb north side of Mitrovica for safety in the south of the city. Most of them were taken south in KFOR armoured vehicles. These latest displacements bring to 550 the number of Kosovo Albanians who have fled insecurity and intimidation in north Mitrovica since last Friday.

Most of the newly displaced are staying with relatives or friends in south Mitrovica. Only two families are sheltered in UNHCR's collective centre in south Mitrovica.

Following the Friday declaration of a curfew from 20:00-05:00 hours, reports of attacks on occupied apartments by grenades and other explosives seem to have declined. UNHCR staff report only one grenade attack Monday, on an unoccupied Kosovo Albanian apartment in north Mitrovica.

But the pillaging of unoccupied Kosovo Albanian apartments in north Mitrovica is apparently widespread, UNHCR staff report. This is very worrying for the Kosovo Albanians who have fled so quickly due to the attacks following the demonstrations and killings of at least seven persons last Thursday night. KFOR currently has additional troops on both sides of Mitrovica.

Before last week's violence, an estimated 4,500 Kosovo Albanians lived in the municipality north of Mitrovica's Ibar River. An estimated 60,000 Kosovo Serbs live in the area, including some 10,000 to 15,000 Kosovo Serbs displaced from other parts of Kosovo.

UNHCR's Special Envoy, Dennis McNamara, who also serves as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs within UNMIK, is asking both the Kosovo Albanian and Serb leaderships to issue strong condemnations of the latest violence. McNamara is scheduled to meet today (Tuesday) with the Joint Administrative Council and will travel to Mitrovica tomorrow (Wednesday) to meet with Kosovo Serb leaders there. Mr. McNamara is asking the two groups to take more concrete action at the community level in helping to find the perpetrators and to encourage any witnesses to come forward following last Wednesday's deadly attack on a UNHCR bus and recent looting and burning of several relief agency offices and nine vehicles in north Mitrovica.

He is stressing that the work of humanitarian agencies must be respected by all of Kosovo's residents.