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Kosovo: 'conflict cannot be solved through humanitarian means' - HC

Briefing notes

Kosovo: 'conflict cannot be solved through humanitarian means' - HC

4 February 1999

The situation has been fairly quiet in Kosovo over the past few days. There has been a lull in the fighting in the Podujevo region since last weekend. Nonetheless, displacement has continued. UNHCR staff visited the village of Gornje Lupce on Thursday (4 February). This village is just 15 kilometres north of Pristina. They found it had been abandoned by its 700 inhabitants, who apparently feared an extension of the Podujevo region offensive.

On the other hand, UNHCR staff found that around 20 families had returned to the village of Slapuzane, in the Suva Reka area, after the OSCE Verification Mission opened a field office there past weekend. The village had around 1,000 residents, who fled in early January when the village was shelled on 9 January.

The High Commissioner is watching developments on the diplomatic front with great interest and hopes that the talks which open in France this weekend will lead to a political agreement. The fate of all the people UNHCR is helping in Kosovo, as well as those who have fled the region, hinges very much on the outcome of these talks.

The High Commissioner has repeatedly stressed that the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in Kosovo cannot be solved through humanitarian means - a political solution is required. Should a settlement be reached, UNHCR will of course remain committed to helping the people of the region - in the context of an effort to promote return and reconciliation.