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Kosovo Crisis Update

Kosovo Crisis Update

23 April 1999

THE UN announces additional needs

With close to 600,000 Kosovar refugees and displaced persons in the countries and regions around Kosovo and with indications that more may flee Kosovo in the coming days, the UN issued yesterday the second addendum to its "donor alert" for the Kosovo emergency. The initial appeal, for all U.N. agencies and the IOM, was issued on 1 April for an amount of $70.8 million, to benefit 350,000 refugees and displaced persons for the period April - June. A first addendum to this appeal was published on 5 April, increasing the amount requested to $138.4 million, for 650,000 refugees. Yesterday's addendum increases the projected beneficiary number to 950,000 and raises the total requirements to $265.4 million - still for the period through end June. Of this amount, $106.6 million is for UNHCR's operations.

The appeal outlines the programme needs projected by all UN agencies, and those of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), primarily related to the humanitarian evacuation from the FRY of Macedonia.

Italians respond generously

Private donors in Italy have so far contributed $8.3 million to UNHCR in response to the Kosovo crisis, nearly matching the contribution to date of the single biggest governmental donor, the United States ($8.5 million).


Refugees arrived again yesterday at the Morini border post. 924 crossed the border, the majority on foot. Many had been walking for more than a week from the Mitrovica area of Kosovo. Only two tractors and a couple of cars crossed the border, and a few families were crowded into horse-drawn carts. The new arrivals told of harassment by Serbian authorities during their flight. They said that several thousand people were still en route to the border and were in the vicinity of the village of Zrze.

Efforts have continued to move refugees south, away from the border areas near Kukes. Many refugees are still reluctant to move, not wanting to leave their tractors behind, or wanting to wait for lost family members. Nonetheless, 5,400 were moved to other parts of Albania by road yesterday. Weather conditions have continued to be bad, turning the ground and the roads in and around the camps into mud.

Arrivals of Kosovars via Montenegro have continued. The border town of Shkodra in the north-west of the country now hosts more than 20,000 Kosovars. Camps in the area have reached their maximum capacity. The Austrian army is constructing a tent camp to alleviate the crowding.

FYR of Macedonia

Around 1,500 refugees arrived at the Blace border crossing yesterday afternoon, mostly by train, and were taken by bus to the Neprosteno and Stankovac II camps. Preparation of the new refugee camp site at Cegrane is proceeding. The 40 hectare site will ultimately have space for 20,000 refugees.

Late on Thursday, UNHCR was allowed access to the mountain village of Malina Mala, on the border with Kosovo, after strong interventions by UNHCR with the authorities in Skopje. On arrival in Malina, UNHCR staff found that the vast majority of the reported 6,000 to 7,000 refugees in the area had dispersed into nearby villages. Just several hundred remained in the hamlet of Malina itself. Blankets and food, carried on four trucks, were distributed to refugees in the area. An assessment of the situation is being undertaken today.

In order to facilitate family reunification between camps in the FYR of Macedonia, UNHCR has initiated a daily bus service to reunite families separated between the Stankovac I, Stankovac II, Neprosteno and Radusa camps. This is an expansion of an existing service which was run between the Stankovac sites.

In an effort to support the many families hosting refugees in the FYR of Macedonia, UNHCR's implementing partner, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has begun distribution of wheat flour, lentils, cooking oil, sugar, soap, hygienic parcels and blankets to refugees and their host families in Tetovo, Gostivar and in Skopje.

Republic of Montenegro

While displaced Kosovars continued to leave the municipality of Rozaje for Albania on Thursday, UNHCR and its partners in Montenegro were updating their contingency plans for the event of another large-scale influx from Kosovo.

Tensions at the Debeli Brijeg border crossing with Croatia have eased, following a reported agreement between the Montenegrin police and Yugoslav army authorities. Montenegrin police will continue to man the border post and the Yugoslav army has set up a check point one kilometre down the road.

UNHCR-IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme

On Wednesday 22 April, 603 refugees were flown out of Skopje to Austria, France and Turkey. The flight to France carried 280 refugees to Paris. 40 persons immediately left to stay with family already in France. The others will be placed in accommodation centres in and around Paris. 159 people travelled to Austria and 164 to Turkey. Flights to Norway and Sweden are scheduled for today.

IOM is exploring ways of increasing the number of departures. One option is to arrange travel to Turkey by bus. Another is to expand capacity for air evacuation by using the airport at Thessaloniki, and not only the over-stretched Skopje airport. Discussions with the Greek authorities are underway.