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Kosovo Crisis Update

Kosovo Crisis Update

29 May 1999


UNHCR and other UN agencies are preparing an appeal, expected to be issued next week, for funding of various aid programmes for Kosovo refugees and displaced people through the end of the year.

The appeal covers two possible situations developing. The first involves a continuing conflict which will require assistance for 1.25 million refugees and displaced people outside Kosovo. The second possibility is a peace settlement happening soon and the return of the uprooted to their homes by autumn. This calls for aid to some 1.5 million people in and out of Kosovo.

In both situations, the appeal will cover needs for the ongoing emergency and limited winterization requirements.

UN agencies have issued a series of appeals for the Kosovo emergency. UNHCR's component in these appeals for six months through June was $143 million. UNHCR still has to receive $10 million of this amount.


More than 400 people arrived at the Morini crossing into Albania on Friday, including two women wounded by sniper fire on the Kosovo side. Also among the arrivals were 249 men freed from the Smrekovnica prison in Kosovska Mitrovica. Serbian authorities have freed around 2,000 people held in this prison in northern Kosovo.

The Albanian military conducted exercises for several hours during the morning, using live ammunition and blasting at targets near the border post. The exercise prompted aid workers to withdraw from the border.

The refugee influx into northern Albania remained a trickle as fighting between Serbian forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army continued along the Kosovo frontier. Several artillery rounds have fallen on the Albanian side leaving two villagers dead.

The relocation of refugees in the Kukes region, prompted by security concerns, went on Friday. With support from NATO trucks, 410 refugees moved to Camp Hope in Fier and Hamallaj in Durres. The refugees were first taken by road to the Mjeda railway station in Skhodra, where they then boarded trains to central Albania.

NATO is expected to provide helicopters in the next several days to transport from Kukes the sick and elderly refugees who cannot travel overland to camps farther south.

FYR of Macedonia

A total of 326 refugees arrived on Friday in the FYR of Macedonia. The number included 210 who came in through Tabanovce, 48 across Jazince and 68 at the main immigration control in Blace.

Villagers at Jazince say that several thousand refugees from the municipalities of Kacanik and Suva Reka are heading toward the Macedonian border. UNHCR, along with the Macedonian Red Cross and the local charity agency El Hilal, is prepositioning food, blankets, jerry cans and mattresses for the anticipated arrivals.

A group of 61 former prisoners who arrived Thursday gave accounts of their captivity at the overcrowded Lipljan prison south of Pristina. They said they were subjected to severe physical assault while undergoing interrogation. They all had signs of serious beatings, including broken ribs.

Also on Friday, 105 refugees were transferred by bus from Blace, Stenkovec and Radusa camps to Albania. UNHCR has been looking for volunteers to relocate to Albania in a bid to relieve pressure on the teeming camps in the FYR of Macedonia and to make room for new arrivals.

Meanwhile, the British government announced that it would provide funds for the construction of a new camp site at Vrapciste, which could host some 12,000 new refugees.

On the health sector, a multi-agency task force met on Thursday to discuss results of a recently completed assessment by CARE of reproductive health services available in the camps. The survey showed that while prenatal care, delivery and obstetrical services are adequately covered in the camps, services for babies and women victims of violence vary. Demand for family planning services appears very low and they are not routinely offered. The task force is drawing up a response to address the needs in the camps.

UNHCR-IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme

Departures on Friday under the humanitarian evacuation programme totalled 1,750, bringing the overall count to nearly 70,000. Destinations were Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

UNHCR has received offers for 137,000 places in 40 countries under the programme.