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Kosovo: Mitrovica calm after Monday demos

Briefing notes

Kosovo: Mitrovica calm after Monday demos

22 February 2000

UNHCR staff in Mitrovica report that the northern Kosovo city is calm, and was also calm overnight following the demonstrations Monday. The demonstrators left the city streets at about 7.30 pm.

Much of Monday's demonstration took place in a peaceful manner, though tear-gas was used to keep demonstrators from crossing the bridges in the divided city. KFOR reports that house-searches that began on Sunday are continuing today.

On an emergency basis, KFOR is doing food distribution in the north in some areas to families who report that they don't feel safe to leave their apartments to reach central distribution points. Some minority residents in the north report that in addition to a lack of freedom of movement even to go out and buy bread they haven't had electricity, which seems to have been purposefully shut-off in some areas. UNHCR is looking into these reports and working to ensure that minority residents in the community are not being targeted by electricity cuts.

Some 1,600 arrivals from north Mitrovica have been registered to date. The actual number of arrivals from the north side of the Ibar river could be as high as 2,000 persons, mostly Kosovo Albanians. Most of these arrivals from the north are being accommodated by relatives and friends in the south. Before the violence erupted on 3 February, the entire Kosovo Albanian population of northern Mitrovica and the surrounding area was estimated at around 4,500. 2,500 Kosovo Albanians were believed to live in city limits of the north side of Mitrovica. Today, the number of Kosovo Albanians remaining on the north side of Mitrovica could thus be well under 1,000 persons, perhaps as low as 500.