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Kosovo : Red Cross continues to monitor needs as calm returns

26-03-2004

Following clashes in the third week of March, the ICRC and its Red Cross partners are visiting communities throughout the province and in Serbia proper to assess needs and ensure swift assistance is provided where needed.

A calm but uneasy situation reigns in Kosovo following the recent inter-communal clashes which left at least 25 dead, hundreds injured and thousands reported displaced.

The ICRC, with its partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is now following up on its initial assistance to care for the injured by visiting towns and villages throughout the province to assess the situation and find out what the needs are.

According to the United Nations some 3,000 people fled their homes because of the violence, and as of 24 March hundreds remained displaced, living in military camps and public buildings, and with host families. More than 160 displaced families have crossed into Serbia proper, where local Red Cross branches and the ICRC's Belgrade delegation have provided assistance

Nearly 300 homes, as well as religious sites, were destroyed or damaged during the unrest, in which members of the international security forces were also injured. It was the most serious outbreak of violence in Kosovo since international forces intervened in 1999.

 Priority: the most vulnerable  

The ICRC’s priorities are now to provide assistance to meet the immediate specific needs of the most vulnerable displaced people and to assess security and health consequences of the violence. Its major concern is over the situation faced by members of minorities who, unable to move around freely, have difficulty accessing health care and other public services and are at greatest risk of further violence.

It has helped to distribute relief supplies sent by the Serbian Red Cross to isolated communities in Kosovo, while in southern areas of Mitrovica it has worked with the local Red Cross branch to assist the needy and register people displaced from the Serbian-dominated northern part of the town.

The ICRC mission in Kosovo has more than 60 staff, including eight expatriates. It works with both local Red Cross bodies in Kosovo: the Red Cross of Kosova (RCK) and the Red Cross of Kosovo and Metohija (RCKM).