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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:ICRC continues to help conflict victims

23-08-2001 News Release 01/33

This week the ICRC delivered emergency aid to thousands of villagers who remain isolated in the Tetovo area of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, some of whom have been cut off from their traditional supply lines for many months now by the conflict.

The ICRC continues to be concerned about the plight of civilians in this area which has been directly affected by the fighting and whose inhabitants have had serious difficulty obtaining food, medicine and other basic necessities. Although military activity has significantly decreased there since the signing of the peace agreement, supply lines have not yet been restored.

ICRC teams are especially worried about the precarious situation of pockets of ethnic Macedonians, mainly elderly people, who remained behind when the other villagers fled in late July and who can no longer rely on the support of their local communities. The ICRC has already reunited more than 150 such vulnerable people with their families and this week delivered food and other essential items to the others.

Food was also delivered to villages in the hills above Tetovo where the resident population, predominantly ethnic Albanians, has been isolated since March. It was the first time the ICRC had been able to bring such assistance to the civilians there, who were facing shortages of food and other basic supplies. Needs continue to be assessed in the area, to which many villagers who earlier fled to Kosovo have recently returned. These people could place an additional burden on the community, whose stocks have been used in recent months by those who stayed behind.