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Kosovo: more violence

Briefing notes

Kosovo: more violence

4 February 2000

UNHCR staff in Mitrovica report this morning that two UNHCR vehicles were destroyed overnight during unrest in the Serb north side of the city. We have temporarily relocated our staff to the southern side of Mitrovica and do not yet know the condition of our office in the north. However, UNHCR staff report that the office of one of our NGO partners was trashed during the unrest overnight in which three people were reported killed and dozens injured. The tensions follow the appalling rocket attack Wednesday on a UNHCR bus near Mitrovica that was carrying 49 Serb civilians, killing two people and wounding three others.

Following the bus attack, UNHCR suspended all eight bus routes we have been operating since last fall in Kosovo to facilitate freedom of movement between isolated communities in the province.

This entire chain of events illustrates the continuing fragility of the situation in Kosovo and proves yet again that the time is not yet ripe for the safe return of non-Albanians to Kosovo. In fact, as I reported at last Friday's briefing, we still see people leaving the province despite all of the international efforts to provide protection for them.

Ultimately, of course, no amount of international action is going to be able to stop this violence.The people of Kosovo must put a stop to it and their community leaders must be seen to act. We've heard plenty of talk, but we have not seen much action to try to put a halt to the continuing acts of violence and revenge.