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Crisis in the Balkans - Situation Report No. 48

02-07-1999 Operational Update

 Joint Federation / ICRC Situation Report  


 This report is published twice-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 latest figures from the Joint Red Cross field offices concerning the movement and associated needs of displaced persons are as follows:

- As of 23 June, the joint field office (JFO) in Belgrade reports 15,794 registered displaced from Kosovo (919 in collective centres and 14,875 in private accommodation), located in the four districts covered by this JFO.

- The Red Cross joint field office( in Nis estimates 12,000 displaced in the region.

- Nis has some 4,000 displaced (1,445 in private accommodation). On 1 July, an additional 567 Serb and Roma displaced arrived in Nis from Kosovo. The Nis joint office covers 36 municipalities of the Nis district. Displaced persons in the region continue to submit family reunion requests on a regular basis.

- Last week Kursumlija reported some 4,000 displaced persons.

- Vranje has 750 displaced currently accommodated in a sports hall.

-There is concern for displaced living in Bujanovac since some 200 displaced live in an improvised camp. A water/sanitation delegate went to the site to make an assessment and found that there were no latrines.

- There are some 2,000 displaced in Bujanovac and 2,000 more are expected. Some are sheltered in schools (35 persons in one classroom).

- In Prokuplje, there were 450 displaced. On 1 July 1,500 new displaced arrived.

- On 1 July, Kraljevo joint office reported the figure of 11,845 displaced in private accommodation and 1,800 in collective centres in Kraljevo.

- Novi Pazar has 3,716 displaced housed in private accommodations.

- Krusevac has 2,846 displaced sheltered in private accommodations.There are 411 displaced in Roma open settlement, 210 displaced in collective centres.

- Cacak has 1,400 displaced in private accommodations.

Relief distributions: Last week's distributions consisted of 182 kg pasta, 90 blankets, 178 mattresses, 3,059 individual parcels, 180 hygiene parcels and 80 baby hygiene parcels. On Monday, 28 June, Kraljevo Red Cross received 3,000 litres of diesel and another 3,000 litres were delivered to Nis Red Cross. On Tuesday, 29 June, four trucks delivered assistance to Nis (1,760 Individual Parcels, six MT sugar, six MT pasta, 600 kg yeast, six MT wheat flour, six MT vegetable oil, three MT salt). On Thursday, 1 July, a five truck convoy left Belgrade for Podgorica/Berane with assistance. Two truck-trailers, carrying 2.6 MT of sugar and 2.1 MT of pasta went to Podgorica and three trucks, carrying 4,000 hygiene parcels and 5,000 blankets to Berane.

Health: A health delegate made follow-up visits to three patients (children) in a Belgrade hospital, who will be reunited with their families in Kosovo once they are discharged from the hospital. All three patients were in a good condition. Deliveries to humanitarian pharmacies continued this week (Novi Sad, Sombor, Loznica, Nis, Uzice). This pilot programme includes 16 humanitarian pharmacies in the Federal Republic, each of which will receive supplies of drugs for chronic diseases valuing 7,500 CHF.

Tracing: As of 28 June, a total of 724 names of displaced were collected from Ulcinj for radio-broadcast (until 28 June).


Relief distributions: Some 180 MT of food were distributed throughout 14 cities in Kosovo. Assessments were made in Sajkovac, Sedlare, Podujevo, Srbica and Gnjilane.

Tracing: One mobile unit for family contacts provided a total of 2,023 successful telephone calls Malisevo (200), Urosevac (250), Djakovica 300), Vucitrn (435), Srbica (400), Podujevo (438). More telephone mes sages (453) were collected and made from the delegation. In addition to this, three Red Cross Messages were collected and three distributed, as well as twelve names collected for radio broadcast.

Health: All patients, who were evacuated by the ICRC, were visited in Pristina hospital. A survey of injured patients in Pristina hospital started on 22 June. A second visit was made to Stimlje psychiatric hospital as well as visits to hospitals in Prizren and Djakovica. Survey visits were made to Zvecan, Mitrovica and Leposavic.

Surveys were made in Prizren (public health institute), Stimlje (psychiatric hospital), Djakovica (IPH) and Pristina (water plant of lake Gracanica). Follow-up of projects, which had started before the withdrawal of ICRC staff from Pristina on 29 March, will be made. An assessment of needs for cleaning and disinfecting contaminated wells has begun. Four teams have been set up for this programme.

A preliminary assessment of the mine/UXO situation in Kosovo has been made. An information sheet specific to the situation in Kosovo is being prepared in Albanian and Serbian languages to help minimise the risk of injury. ICRC Pristina continues to dialogue with UN agencies ensuring the mine/UXO problem is taken into account in the UNHCR return plan.


Participating National Societies: The French Red Cross is setting up a main delegation in Pristina with a sub-delegation in Macedonia. Food parcels, now warehoused in Skopje, will be transported and distributed early next week in the Srbica area, where they are targeting 10,000 beneficiaries. Three trucks left Skopje on Thursday 1 July, carrying 7,500 food parcels, three more trucks are expected. Also, there are 200 MT of bulk food (rice, canned food, dried fruit, sugar) from France in the pipeline designated for Kosovo. The French Red Cross is plan ning for a housing rehabilitation programme to aid families in repairing or reconstructing their homes in the Srbica area.

External Relations, information and publicity: The release of some 166 Kosovo Albanian prisoners on 25 June and their journey home was accompanied by reporters from Reuters and the Boston Globe. Interviews on the prisoner release were given to VOA, National Public Radio (US), Houston Chronicle , The New York Times , Austrian Radio.

 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  

According to the UNHCR, 14,000 refugees returned to Kosovo on 29-30 June, bringing the total number of refugees who have returned to about 215,000 and the total of those remaining in Macedonia to 45,000. The UNHCR estimates that there are 17,000 refugees in camps and 28,000 in host families. As of 1 July, 831 of the returnees left camps via the UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation Programme, travelling by bus to Pristina and Urosevac.

Relief distributions: The Macedonian Red Cross is distributing the ICRC's emergency stock of 1.5 litre water bottles and high protein biscuits to refugees as they pass border points; and 9,192 bottles of water were dispatched to Blace and Jazince.

Distributions to 4,700 most vulnerable social case families are completed in 26 Red Cross branches (including Skopje, Bitola, Prilep and others) and are underway in the four remaining branches.

Logistics and Relief Distribution to Beneficiaries (28-30 June)



Distributions To:

Distibutions to:




Social Cases

Mattresses (Swedish RC)








Hygiene p arcels (Netherlands)




Hygiene parcels (IFRC)




Hygiene parcels (American RC)




Hygiene parcels (French RC)




Sugar (1 kg packs)




The Federation is looking for 2,000 sq. metres in additional warehouse space to store emergency response stock and other goods being transferred from Albania.

Health: The German Red Cross (GRC) field hospital is being dismantled and packed for transit on Friday. After two and a half months at the Stenkovec camp, over 6,000 patients have been given medical care. The Norwegian Red Cross hospital in Cegrane camp will stay open until the beginning of August operating at a lower capacity. There will be outpatient and maternity care provided, but there will be no surgical activities.

The Norwegian Red Cross (NRC) has been operating an ambulance service where the ambulance leaves every morning transferring chronically ill and elderly patients from Cegrane to the hospital in Pristina, Kosovo. So far, four patients have taken the three-hour trip home, accompanied by either a doctor or nurse and a member of their family. These vulnerable people are not able to go by car or bus, and would be separated from their families if they were left behind. The patients transferred have included a man with heart disease, a pregnant woman who has epilepsy and a traumatised woman. A NRC medical team went to Stenkovec I camp to facilitate the transfer of seven bed-ridden patients from the GRC field hospital.

ICRC delegates have finished a field assessment for mine awareness in western areas of Macedonia (Kicevo, Struga, Ohrid). The Macedonian Red Cross branch reacted promptly to the need and started mine awareness programmes 2-3 weeks ago, including organised training with ethnic Albanian teachers and producing a TV spot broadcast on local channels.

The ICRC has produced two formats of mine awareness materials in both Albanian and Serbian languages. These materials will be distributed to all branches of the Macedonian Red Cross and are being given to returnees as they cross the main border areas. Most of the initial 25,000 press run of each version will be sent to Pristina; these materials will also be distributed at all Macedonian RC branches. The ICRC brochures were adapted from materials prepared for Bosnia, translated to Albanian in Tirana. The versions for Kosovo have additional illustrations of a cluster bomb and some changes in text and illustrations appropriate to conditions in Kosovo. 

At the UNICEF mine awareness interagency meeting in Skopje, a KFOR representative announced there will be maps indicating locations of mine fields and unexploded ordinance available at the CIMIC centre in Pristina on Friday 2 July.

Tracing: For the week ending 1 July, the ICRC tracing offices (Skopje, Tetevo and seven camps) have received 1,415 visitors and 526 phone calls. The number of visitors has dropped to about to about a third of the level of previous weeks, the number of phone calls is at the same level as recent weeks.

Delegations: The Federation is working on an agreement with the UNHCR to set up a monitoring system of WFP food distributions to refugees. Twelve locally hired Federation employees were trained about monitoring procedures on Wednesday (30 June) and will be working with all 30 branches of the Macedonian Red Cross.The monitoring program begins this Monday.

Participating National Societies: The Spanish Red Cross has done an assessment and will be setting up a project delegation in Macedonia on Monday (12 July), they are considering a dental hygiene programme for children and micro-enterprise projects.

External Relations, information and publicity: Last week Red Cross Red Crescent delegates conducted interviews with the following media and representatives of National Societies: Medifax, AFP, Nova Makedonija; British RC, German RC and Canadian RC. A delegate from the German Red Cross arrived on 28 June to cover programmes in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo.

Summary: Most agencies and NGOs have shifted personnel and resources to Kosovo, using Macedonia as a logistical base. Not every refugee will be able to go home before winter, some are too old or sick or traumatised, some no longer have homes, some do not feel safe or have not been able to contact their families. The Red Cross will continue activities to assist these refugees and other victims of the crisis.


Figures provided by the Emergency Management Group (EMG) show that within the space of a fortnight, more than half of all refugees have returned to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, mainly to Kosovo. The EMG has stated that more than 252,900 have returned, while the UNHCR estimates that 208,000 people are still in the country. As mentioned in previous reports, a slowdown in the rate of spontaneous return is now occurring.

Refugees returning spontaneously to the Federal Republic are still using both the Morini and the Qafe Prushit crossing points (in Has district) despite advice from the UN and NGO personnel to avoid the latter route--the far-less travelled road--which is heavily polluted with mines and unexploded ordnance. Land mines are claiming more victims in the north; recently, in two separate incidents, a total of three people (including children) were injured in the most recent accidents. Traffic accidents have also proven to be a source of concern in Albania lately, with a number of deaths having been recorded.

Relief distributions:   Warehouses across the country remain well-stocked and Red Cross Red Crescent beneficiaries across the country are receiving monthly food rations with few problems. Relief dispatch between Tuesday and Friday of this week has included 5,520 Swedis h Red Cross food parcels and 6048 hygiene parcels to Tirana; and 3,680 Swedish Red Cross food parcel, 744 family hygiene parcels and 3,024 individual hygiene parcels to Durres.

On 1 July, Tirana University Hospital received a donation of 10,316 MT of various food items (such as wheat flour, sunflower oil, pasta, tinned food) and 831 parcels of blankets for babies and children. There are plans to make further donations to orphanages and children's homes.

Health:   Prior to its closing on 30 June, the Finnish Red Cross Basic Health Clinic in Kukes saw 33 patients in the final three days of operation. The unit is now being packed up and the Finnish Red Cross personnel will remain on standby while an assessment is made to determine where the unit will be deployed next. Kukes hospital and the MSF basic health unit situated at the main square will cover the needs of the returning refugees for the time being.

On 30 June, 18 elderly and vulnerable refugees being accommodated in the UAE Red Crescent hospital/nursing home were transported back to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. All of them had been registered by the ICRC, some days earlier (see tracing/protection section). The remaining eight patients in the hospital were transferred to the Italian I (Kukes I) camp. 

A preliminary needs assessment for rural community water supply projects was made. Three villages on the outskirts of Kukes were visited on 30 June, following discussions with officials from the local water authority. Once a global picture has been obtained of the basic community-level water services and needs around Kukes, an action plan and proposal will be prepared.

Tracing:   Eighteen of the 25 vulnerable persons registered by the ICRC Protection/Tracing team in the UAE hospital/nursing home ha ve been sent back to the Federal Republic. They left suddenly on 30 June in two vehicles in an organised repatriation, according to the UAE camp management. This action has serious implications for the Red Cross tracing service which is trying to contact family members in Kosovo or abroad for this group of vulnerable people. The delegation in Pristina is being asked to make contact with them as quickly as possible once they are back inside Kosovo. The remaining eight chronically ill and immobile patients in the UAE hospital/nursing home were transferred to the Italian I (Kukes I) camp hospital on 30 June.

The satellite telephone service is still being used by refugees leaving for home. During the reporting period 440 calls were made from the Red Cross tracing office in Kukes town and the mobile satellite phone stationed on the Kukes-Morini border road.

In the period between 27-29 June, the ICRC's Tracing Department had 85 visits. According to the department's headquarters staff, 277 telephone calls were made in the period, but no radio messages were prepared. In fact, no such radio messages have been prepared since 24 June. From the beginning of the operation, there have been 6304 visits, 34,011 telephone calls made, 28,788 radio messages made, 281 cases of unaccompanied vulnerable, 49 tracing cases have been opened and 17 closed, 151 cases of parents having lost children have been registered, 204 cases of unaccompanied children, 480 family reunion cases have been opened and 81 have been closed. Finally, 58 Red Cross messages have come in and 17 have gone out.

Albanian Red Cross: Albanian Red Cross volunteers are engaged in the distribution of mine awareness leaflets at fuel stations and at the information point at the entrance to Kukes. The volunteers work in two-person teams, handing out leaflets and answering people's queries about mine issues. Youth volunteers are active in camps and collective centr es assisting in any way that they can.

Participating National Societies: The Secretary General of the Australian Red Cross made a trip to Kukes on 29 June. Briefings were held with the HoSD and ICRC Team Leader, followed by visit to the information point for refugees arriving from the south en route to the border, the main square transit area and the way station outside town on the Morini border road.

External relations, information and publicity: Co-ordination meetings for mines awareness activities, chaired by UNICEF, have been attended so as to ensure an appropriate integration of the Red Cross Red Crescent operation's pamphlets into the overall leaflet distribution plan of the UN agencies and NGOs involved in mine risk education.

A trip to the southern coastal town of Sarande was made to witness the process of return to Kosovo. The day was spent with two families, a refugee family and an Albanian host family.

 Bosnia Herzegovina  

The Red Cross of Bosnian Serb Entity is concerned over the possibility of an increase in the number of Serb refugees arriving from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

According to the Red Cross of Republika Srpska (RS) over the past ten days over 400 new refugees arrived in RS. The Red Cross of RS has provided aid to over 20,000 refugees from the Federal Republic.

Relief distributions: Distributions made by the Red Cross of RS include 36 MT of flour, donated by the Red Cross and 3,000 hygiene parcels, donated by Médecins Sans Frontières. The World Church Association plans to provide the Red Cross of RS with 2,000 blankets, 2,000 pillow cases and 4,000 bed sheets by the end of this week. The humanitarian organisation Save the Children plans to donate 5,400 children hygiene parcels and 1,500 d iapers for distribution by the Red Cross of RS.

The Red Cross of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has distributed 1,600 children's parcels provided by the German humanitarian organisation Children to Children. Some 15,000 jars of baby food, donated by the Japanese humanitarian organisation Association to Aid Refugees, will be distributed through local Red Crosses.

 Ref. LG 1999-107-ENG