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Crisis in the Balkans - Situation Report No. 41

09-06-1999 Operational Update

 Joint Federation / ICRC Situation Report  


 This report is published thrice-weekly as a general update on Red Cross Red Crescent activities during the Balkans crisis, targeting primarily the Movement's components and supporters.  


 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia)  

The Field Offices'assessment survey reveals complex needs resulting from the current crisis in Kosovo. While the first phase of assistance, food and non-food supplies provided immediately to areas during states of emergency will continue, it is now felt that more sustained programming, such as the expansion of the existing soup kitchens and an increase in non-food items, is a top priority.

Relief: In the first week of June, a total of 33,000 m2 of plastic sheeting and 23,780 m2 of tarpaulin were delivered to the Red Cross in Nis, Kraljevo and Kragujeva and " Dr Dragisa Misovic " hospital in Belgrade. The Kragujevac Red Cross also received 50 MT of wheat flour, five MT of oil and two MT of other food items, as well as 300 blankets, 130 kitchen sets and four bales of clothing. Some 820 hygiene parcels were sent to Nis. In the course of the week, emergency supplies consisting of 13,440 individual food parcels, 8,244 hygienic parcels, 8,252 baby parcels and close to 19 MT of vegetable oil arrived in the country.

Health: Last week, one surgical unit (which can aid up to 100 people), infusion material and giving sets were delivered to Krusevac hospital. Two Norwegian Red Cross surgical units and infusion sets were delivered to Kosovo, to be distributed to Pristina and Prizren hospitals.

The first eight of a planned 27 water reservoirs for Novi Sad have been produced and the installation will start this week. Two water treatment plants (to eliminate iron and magnesium from the water) have been commissioned.

Delegations: The Joint Field Team structures are now well-established in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kraljevo and Nis. Standardized data-collection and reporting systems are being finalized. Visits were paid to a number of local Re d Cross branches. Fuel depots for Red Cross vehicles have been established in each of the four Field Office regions.


The Red Cross made its first direct relief distribution in Kosovo on Saturday, 5 June: the contents of one truck, totaling 2,240 individual food parcels, were distributed to displaced in a village a few kilometers north of Podujevo and 6,720 individual food parcels from Belgrade arrived in Kosovo.

On Sunday 6 June, the Red Cross visited the psychiatric hospital in Stimlje. The institution has 350 patients of all ethnic origins and 78 staff, and is in need of food. 320 individual food parcels were given to the hospital. An additional 2,420 individual food parcels were brought to the nearby village of Godance for displaced in the area.

 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro)  

Large numbers of newly arrived displaced persons continued in Ulcinj with the arrival of over 3,000 displaced directly from Kosovska Mitrovica and over 300 from Rozaje (where some 1,300 people arrived in the last 5 days). This large influx has created a new shelter crisis. For the first time since the end of April, 200 new arrivals could not find accommodation. The collective centres in town, currently hosting some 7,000 people, are planning to expand and work on additional latrines and the water supply has commenced.

Red Cross branches in Andrijevica, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Bar and Pljevlja have reported an increase in the number of Serbs displaced because of damage to towns. A total of 906 Serb displaced have been registered so far.

Relief distribution: New arrivals have been given a blanket, plastic sheeting, bread, milk and cheese upon reaching the bus station in Ulcinj.

Emergency assistance was delivered on Friday, 4 June, to Murino (Plav municipality) consisting of 780 kg of food, 1,920 food cans, 1,920 soaps and 384 kg of detergent.

Shelter: In Ulcinj, the Red Cross has submitted a detailed proposal for the construction of an additional camp with 250 tents to accommodate approximately 2,000-2,500 people.

Health: On 31 May the Red Cross started a " medical shuttle " from Ulcinj to Bar hospital and ten transfers were carried out last week. The Red Cross health information office in Ulcinj has also established a need for a transport system between Ulcinj and Podgorica hospital, the latter being the main referral hospital for specialist care. In order to ease the pressure of displaced persons coming from the Neptune camp for medical consultations in the Ulcinj health centre, a local health clinic will be opened in the camp during the coming days.

Tracing: Last week, a total of 2,542 people made use of the Red Cross telephone lines to contact their relatives. A further 143 displaced registered their names and locations to be broadcasted over world services.

 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  

As the peace process moves ahead, all agencies in the region are planning for various contingencies, including the repatriation of significant numbers of refugees. The Federation and ICRC are in discussion to plan for any material support needed for refugees as they cross the border to re-enter Kosovo.

According to UNHCR, refugee arrivals to Macedonia have slowed to a few hundred a day, most entering at unofficial border crossings. A total of 426 refugees arrived into Macedonia from Kosovo on Tuesday. Some 320 came in at Vratnica, an unofficial border crossing near Jazince, 100 entered at Taba novce and six at Blace. The UNHCR estimates there are thousands of refugees hiding in the mountain areas along the border and providing relief aid to them would be a priority upon entering Kosovo.

Relief Distribution: As of May, there were over 112,300 refugees living with host families, 82,300 persons in the host families and an additional 12,200 refugees in camps and transit centres who have received Red Cross relief distributions. Also, 12,300 persons living in social case families received distributions. Logistical arrangements have been expanded to prepare for the July programme to provide relief to an additional 60,000 families who are social cases. A consortium of international organisations and NGOs have coordinated the donations. The donors are ECHO, USAID, Mercy Corps, CRS, Intersos, American Red Cross, German Red Cross and the French Red Cross. InterSOS also supports the 5,700 most vulnerable families.

Dispatches from the International Federation's central warehouse earlier this week included: 4,440 mattresses, 3,383 hygiene parcels and 771 hygiene parcels (donated by ECHO). Deliveries included: 5,000 mattresses, and 6,000 blankets; as well as 7,200 cans of vegetables and 27,550 packets of baby food which were donated by the Bulgarian Red Cross. Significant amounts of non-standard perishables and other items were distributed to various local charitable and non-profit agencies as arranged by the Macedonian Red Cross.

Health: At the German Red Cross (GRC) field hospital the number of out- and in-patients have increased since the past week. There were a total of 540 patient consultations, 335 were new cases and 84 of these were children. The average number of out-patients reached 53 per day (37 during the previous week), six daily admissions on average. The average bed occupancy for the week ending 29 May was 62%. There were 13 births and 11 surgeries performed (30 May- 05 June). There have been no epidemic s of communicable diseases.

The GRC hospital is the referral hospital for Stenkovec I & II and Radusa camps and the Blace transit camp, serving a population of 48,900. The hospital's water supply is provided by the GRC's specialised water ERU and has produced an average of 20,000 litres of high quality water per day during the past week, covering all of the health posts in Stenkovec-Brazda camp.

At the Norwegian Red Cross (NRC) hospital in Cegrane camp, the total number of admissions have decreased from 740 to 49. Last week there were 709 out-patients at the hospital. The average bed occupancy for the week ending 29 May was 35%. There were 15 babies born, 4 deaths and 14 surgical operations. During the past week there has been a shift in the types of illness and disease. There are more cases of trauma and mental illness, and the number of tuberculosis cases is increasing (14 cases registered). The daytime temperatures have risen to 42 degrees (centigrade) and both patients and staff suffer, so they are in the process of identifying local suppliers to purchase air-conditioning units. The hospital has ordered one truck with medical consumables and equipment and four field ambulances from Norway. The NRC hospital is the referral hospital for Cegrane Senokos and Neprosteno camps, supporting a total refugee population of 56,100.

Participating National Societies: The American Red Cross has moved from the Federation office at the Macedonian Red Cross building and established a new office nearby.

External relations, information and publicity: International Red Cross and Red Crescent Information delegates conducted interviews or briefings with the following media and representatives of national societies on Monday-Tuesday (07-08 June): London Daily News , Norwegian TV, Dnevik Macedonian newspaper, and TSF/Television Suisse Romande. A repor t on the Macedonian Red Cross Information Centre which is posted on the Federation website'Direct from the Field'section was translated and sent to local media as a press release.


Another relatively small increase in the number of refugees from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been witnessed since the last reporting period; 532 people entered the country bringing the overall number of refugees, as counted when crossing the border by the Ministry of Local Government to 465,299. In tented camps, the number of refugees has increased by 3,000 totaling 83,330 refugees. A drop of just under 2,000 has been recorded in the number of people currently accommodated in collective centres. The Red Cross Red Crescent caseload is 369,127 which is made up of 329,758 refugees with host families and 39,369 host families.

Relief distributions: Warehouses are well stocked across the country and the monthly needs for June are well on their way to being met. Dispatch to the field on Tuesday was as follows: 6,640 Swedish Red Cross food parcels and 20 MT of wheat flour to Tirana;10,368 French Red Cross food parcels to Durres; 3,920 Swedish Red Cross food parcels and 23 MT of wheat flour; 69 MT of wheat flour to Elbasan; and 3,920 Swedish Red Cross food parcels and 23 MT of wheat flour to Shkodra.

A Red Cross ferry, the EuroCarrier, arrived with 31 trailers containing individual parcels, food parcels, wheat flour and hygiene parcels and a light vehicle.

In the Tirana region, the Red Cross Red Crescent operation has accepted 69 people onto its caseload list that are not refugees from the FR Yugoslavia. This group of Albanian citizens are from the area immediately adjacent to the FR Yugoslavia and they have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the situation in the area. Di stribution of the second monthly rotation in the Tirana region continues.The first distribution in the Lac area where there are 11,800 registered refugees was completed.

Participating National Societies: Representatives from the Japanese and the Danish Red Cross signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the International Federation and the Albanian Red Cross. A delegation from the Hellenic Red Cross arrived to do a follow-up of the programme begun last year concerning the distribution of water purification chemicals in the southern part of the country.

External relations, information and publicity: Reporters from APTN were taken to the field to witness monthly food parcel distribution to the refugees, on Monday 7 June. The following day, a press journalist from Poland was taken to Durres to see the distribution there.

Delegation: A Federation Logistics delegate arrived to take on the duties of the Vehicle Fleet Manager from the departing staff person.

Outstanding needs: Refugees need an improved network of information regarding where and when they can receive food and non-food aid. An information centre in Tirana has been proposed. All six regional offices require one forklift and two pallet lifters. Additionally, these offices require computers, printers and UPSs.

 Kukes report  

The peace process remains the focal point in Kukes, with much speculation on the type of policy which could be adopted by the authorities concerning refugee movements back to Kosovo. Resistance to moving south remains high, with a total of only 1,409 leaving Kukes on 7 and 8 June. 202 refugees also entered Albania from the Morine border, of which the vast majority were male. In some areas there are increasing numbers of refugees previously living with host families, wanting to b e accommodated in camps established in Kukes. Agencies responsible for camps are facing difficulties in turning people away who have emerged from the host family system.

Relief distributions:

The current round of distributions in Kukes Town has almost been completed. On 7 June, all seven distribution points were open, with 7,243 beneficiaries receiving 39 MT of food parcels (3,005 French Red Cross and 2,167 Swedish Red Cross) and 29 MT of wheat flour. On 8 June, a further 855 beneficiaries received 193 Swedish Red Cross food parcels, 50 French Red Cross food parcels and 3.4 MT of wheat flour. 

During the past few days, the frequency of trucks arriving in Kukes has increased dramatically. Earlier this week the Kukes Sub-delegation received 100 MT of wheat flour, 9,260 Swedish Red Cross food parcels, weighing 98.2 MT and 1,250 French Red Cross food parcels. Secondary deliveries were made to warehouses and distribution points in Kukes and Krume as follows: 59 MT of wheat flour, 1,770 Swedish Red Cross food parcels, weighing 18.8 MT and 2,000 French Red Cross food parcels.

Tracing: The Red Cross protection team, on 7 and 8 June, opened the following cases/requests: eight special radio messages; seven family reunification requests; three tracing requests concerning unaccompanied minors and five concerning abandoned elderly people; two Red Cross messages received and a two Red Cross messages distributed; one special tracing request and one debriefing of a 14 year old minor. In addition, the team facilitated 1,022 satellite telephone calls and 403 radio messages from the Kukes Office, Kukes Main Square, the United Arab Emirates Camp and Kukes II.

On 4 June, a 15 year old minor was reunited with his mother, who was successfully traced. He was transported by helicopter to Tirana, and then by landcruiser to Kakonke. On 7 May, another family reunification took place, an ex-detain ee was reunited with his two parents and brother, who had come out to Albania from Germany to help locate his missing brother. 

Health: At present the demands on health facilities established to assist the refugee population have depreciated, to reflect the overall drop in new arrivals. The Italian Red Cross field hospital, on 6 and 7 June, treated a total of 254 patients, of which 69 were under 10 years old. The Finnish Red Cross basic health clinic treated a total of 768 patients on 7 and 8 June, many of which were again treated during the night. The clinic is suffering from a shortage of medical staff, having had an additional Kosovo doctor recruited by another organisation on 7 June. The facility now has four doctors, however, delegates are currently attempting to recruit new medical staff. Whilst this situation is a heavy strain on the four doctors, the clinic has managed to stay open on a 24 hour basis and will only have major human resource problems if there is a large influx of refugees.

External relations, information and publicity: Coverage was provided by Television Suisse Romande, which featured the satellite telephone service for new arrivals in Kukes. They are also interested in focusing on food distributions in Krume. NTV, a Russian independent Television company, were briefed about the Red Cross Movement's Mandate. 

Members of the Sub-delegation had meetings with an ICRC communications team from Geneva, who visited on 8 June.

 Bosnia and Herzegovina  

Food, hygiene parcels, milk powder, baby care items, and blankets are still needed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The UNHCR reports that the total number of refugees that fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) since the beginning of the current crisis is 104,600 people.

Shelter: Refugees accommodated with host families are facing great difficulties, since they are not assisted with humanitarian aid. UNHCR is preparing another tented site in Rajlovac, near Sarajevo, which is to be open within the next few days.

 Ref. LG 1999-084-ENG