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Kosovo operation: first delivery of aid to IDPs in the Glogovac area

Briefing notes

Kosovo operation: first delivery of aid to IDPs in the Glogovac area

15 June 1999

UNHCR made its first delivery of aid to internally displaced people in the Glogovac area of Kosovo yesterday. Glogovac is a municipality in central Kosovo.

The UNHCR and WFP team were told that that 18,000 to 20,000 people were living in Glogovac town, which had a prewar population of around 4,000 - all ethnic Albanian. Thus the majority of the people there were displaced from other areas, and in particular from the Drenica region (Istok, Srbica, Klina) north and west of Glogovac. The people were ecstatic to see the UN team and to receive food supplies and water. They had been scrounging for food and water in the hills around Glogovac for many weeks. The convoy carried meals-ready-to-eat, water, baby food, blankets and soap.

Today UNHCR teams will make assessments in three areas of Kosovo. One team will return to Glogovac, with medical personnel. The team will look into distribution arrangements and see whether more IDPs have been coming down from the surrounding areas. A second team will carry out an assessment in the Pristina area, and a third team will travel from Pristina to the western town of Prizren.

We are continuing to ferry supplies from Skopje to Pristina on a daily basis. A second UN aid convoy travelled yesterday (Monday) from Skopje to Pristina, bringing in more UN and NGO staff and 7 more truckloads of food. A third inter-agency convoy is leaving Skopje this morning, with 45 vehicles including 22 truckloads of aid. In addition to UN aid, today's convoy includes trucks carrying relief goods from Mercy Corps International, the International Rescue Committee and the International Medical Corps. We are planning a daily convoy to ferry supplies from Skopje to Pristina, from where distribution to outlying areas will be made.

As of today UNHCR will have 41 staff in Kosovo (19 expatriates and 22 national staff). As the security situation permits, they will fan out in Kosovo to bring aid to the internally displaced and to assess to conditions for return. This is the last day of Yugoslav army presence in the Pristina area.

The High Commissioner is deeply concerned by the departure of Serbs from Kosovo. We are witnessing the same pattern which we saw in December 1991 in Western Slavonia, in mid 1995 in the Krajina when Operation Storm took place, and in Sarajevo after the Dayton agreement. The High Commissioner's Special Envoy, Dennis McNamara, discussed this matter with General Jackson yesterday, who confirmed that his troops will do their best to provide security for all of Kosovo's citizens, but he stressed that under the circumstances there is unfortunately a limit to what can be done.

UNHCR is talking both to the KLA and to the Serbian leadership in Kosovo. We would like to do whatever we can to stabilize the situation, but tensions are high. Regrettably, were are likely to see more departures.

The UNHCR office in Montenegro reported that between Thursday and Monday evening, 13,300 Serbs and Montenegrins had crossed from Kosovo into Montenegro at Rozaje. About half of them continued onward to Serbia. Their main areas of origin seem to be Pec, Djakovica, Decani, Klina and Prizren. Many said they would like to return home, but had been unsure of what to do as NATO moved in. The number of Serbs who have left Kosovo and travelled directly into Serbia is not known.