Kosovo Crisis Update
U.N. agencies issued a new appeal on Wednesday for $473.4 million for the next six months for emergency aid to some 1.5 million refugees, internally displaced and other people affected by the conflict in Kosovo.
UNHCR's component in the June to December appeal is $246 million.
Other participating agencies are WFP, UNICEF, FAO, UNFPA, OHCHR, WHO, OCHA and the International Organization for Migration.
The amount required includes improvement of facilities in the asylum countries as summer sets in and preparations for the coming winter. There are also provisions for the possible return of the more than 780,000 refugees and displaced people in the region, and others further afield, once a peace agreement announced last week is implemented.
With this new appeal, the total requirements of the UN agencies for the Kosovo operation from April through December rise to $738.8 million, from the previously stated amount of $265.4 million. UNHCR's share of this amount for the 9-month period is $352.8 million.
UNHCR's needs for the Kosovo operation for the whole of 1999 are estimated at around $390 million. For the first six months of this operation, UNHCR had asked for $143 million. To date it has received around $109 million.
UNHCR coordinates humanitarian activities in the Kosovo context. It was helping 400,000 people in Kosovo before the conflict worsened in late March, which prompted the evacuation of staff members there, and some 100,000 in the neighbouring countries.
Even before a peace agreement was announced last week, UNHCR has been preparing for the return to Kosovo. A task force has been formed in Skopje to prepare a move back into Kosovo, ahead of the refugees, as soon as security conditions permit.
Planning also includes the possibility of large-scale spontaneous returns, the setting up of seven UNHCR satellite offices and the establishment of mobile teams to cover all of Kosovo's 30 municipalities.
A total of 106 refugees, including 88 former detainees, crossed the Morini border into Albania on Tuesday.
And with sign of immediate implementation of last week's peace agreement, 225 refugees still asked to be transported from the transit centre in the northern Albanian border town of Kukes to camps in Shkodra and Durres.
In Krume, UNHCR evacuated a family of seven fearful of attacks from Serbian troops battling the Kosovo Liberation Army just across the border. The town, located 25 kilometres north of Kukes, has come under artillery and mortar fire over the past week, prompting more than 8,000 villagers, as well as many refugees, to flee.
The 88 ex-prisoners said they had initially fled from their homes with their families in their tractor-wagons from a village on the outskirts of Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo a week ago, when it was bombarded by Serbian troops. Upon arrival at Prekaze in the neighbouring municipality of Srbica, the military separated them from their families and stripped them of their valuables and ID cards. They were beaten and taken to Smrekovnica prison outside Kosovska Mitrovica, where the beatings continued. They said they were denied food and made to sleep on the cement floor.
More than 2,500 prisoners from Smrekovnica have been freed since last month, reportedly to make room for new detainees.
FYR of Macedonia
A total of 213 Kosovars arrived in the FYR of Macedonia on Tuesday, including 144 who came without papers through the Jazince area. Only three people entered through the main border crossing at Blace and 66 at Tabanovce.
The arrivals at the Jazince area were mostly men and appeared to be part of a large group that came in the last several days from the Drenica region in central Kosovo.
The earlier group of 320 that arrived on Tuesday consisted of men between the ages of 18 and 45. Also in the group were 60 boys under 18. They said their families left for Albania and the FYR of Macedonia one to two months ago. They hid in the mountains until they finally ran out of food.
Also on Tuesday, 116 refugees volunteered to relocate to camps in Korce, Albania, bringing the overall total to 951. UNHCR has been looking for volunteers among the refugees to go to Albania in a bid to relieve pressure on the camps in the FYR of Macedonia.
Republic of Montenegro
Seventy six refugees entered Montenegro on Monday. The arrivals included 50 people who came from Djakovica.
With the completion of new facilities in Ulcinj, UNHCR is arranging for the movement of more people from the border town of Rozaje, where displaced people have feared increased military activity in the last several weeks.
Tents are being erected at a new site, Pine Tree III, to accommodate 2,400 people. The area can be expanded to hold an additional 600 people if needed.
UNHCR-IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme
Departures under the UNHCR-IOM humanitarian evacuation programme totalled 794 on Tuesday, bringing the overall count to 79,979. Destinations were Austria, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
UNHCR has received offers for 137,000 places in 40 countries under the programme.