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Crisis in the Balkans - Situation Report No. 53

20-07-1999 Operational Update

 Joint Federation / ICRC Situation Report  


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


Both the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and the UN are due to issue revised appeals for the Balkans next week.

Latest UNHCR figures for refugees and internaly displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosovo remaining outside the province are:

Montenegro 29,900

Macedonia 27,000

Albania 22,000

BiH 17,600

Total 96,500

This implies that 692,700 have now returned to Kosovo.

UNHCR advises verbally that the figures for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina are too high, so the total is certainly below 100,000. Returnees from third countries (not including Turkey) now number 5700, according to IOM. And the total number of non-ethnic Albanians displaced from Kosovo now stands at 160,000, according to UNHCR. In Montenegro, the number of non-ethnic Albanians who have arrived in the republic from Kosovo may soon equal the number of Kosovo refugees still there from the earlier exodus.

A WHO survey has found that some 150 Kosovo Albanians have been killed by mines or unexploded ordnance in the month since the return to the province began.

 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia)  

Overview: IDPs continue to come north from Kosovo. The Belgrade Joint Field Office reports 3000 new arrivals in the course of last week in the region it covers, and the continued pressure of arriving IDPs is also a factor in southern areas of Serbia. The main problem for the local Red Cross branches is accommodation, particularly since the duration of stay of these people is uncertain.

The first soup kitchens funded by the integrated appeal are operational, notably in Kraljevo where two such kitchens have been feeding 1014 people. The Red Cross Red Crescent has received further requests for assistance from the areas worst affected by last week’s floods. The most urgent needs are: disinfectants, fuel for water tanks, water purification tablets, blankets and mattresses.

Relief: Following food deliveries for the soup kitchens in Subotica and Sombor earlier in the week, five ICRC trucks/trailers transported 147.5 tonnes of food to Novi Sad and Pancevo.

Emergency aid distr ibuted by the Kraljevo Field Office in the course of the week included 4000 individual food parcels, 300 baby parcels, 1000 hygiene parcels and 360 mattresses.

Health: At an official ceremony on 16 July in Novi Sad, the ICRC project to ensure the supply of drinking water for four municipalities of the Vojvodina capital was opened. The 27 water reservoirs/distribution points and two treatment plants are now in place at the key points of this part of the city, including the SOS Children Village.

A delivery of essential drugs to the Zajecar humanitarian pharmacy was carried out on 16 July, bringing the number of humanitarian pharmacies assisted so far to 11. Two more are to be opened this week.

Cleaning material and equipment were provided to 4 IDP collective centres in Bujanovac, southern Serbia.

Protection: ICRC detention teams made a census of more than 920 detainees in three places of detention in Serbia. Three children and one woman were last weekend transferred from Belgrade, where they had been undergoing medical treatment (all are chronically ill patients), to be reunited with their families in Pristina. A medical delegate is now working almost full time on identifying similar cases and taking care that their transfer is arranged.

Participating National Society (PNS): The German Red Cross president is visiting FRY. On 19 July, the GRC delivered 10 truckloads of relief and 10 generators to the Yugoslav Red Cross.

The Finnish Red Cross representative visited Vojvodina last week, touring the local branch regional warehouse, a soup kitchen distribution point and the humanitarian pharmacy in Novi Sad.



Relief: ICRC distributions within Kosovo continue and the total of foodstuffs delivered since the beginning of June has now passed the 2000 MT. Eleven field trips to minority villages have been carried out, taking a total of 334 MT of food to more than 140,600 people.

Health: On 17 July three International Federation psycho-social delegates arrived in Pristina to carry out an assessment and design programmes.

The ICRC project for the control of water quality in the Institutes for Public Health is starting with the delivery of field kits and materials for analysis.

Protection: ICRC mobile units in Pristina, Priszren and Pech made a total of 2945 calls. The protection teams visited 18 locations.

In Prizren and Djakova hospitals, more than 45% of in-patients are the result of incidents with mines and unexploded ordnance. Visits to hospitals in Peje, Gjakove and Prizren to collect data regarding mines have been undertaken by ICRC medical teams. Radio Prizren is broadcasting twice daily the mines information leaflet Going Home.

Participating National Society (PNS): There are some 19 PNS currently carrying out assessments/operations in various different regions and programme sectors within Kosovo. Seven of these PNS are fully operational:

 Belgian Red Cross (Francophone branch) is distributing food and non-food items to families in Vranicq. To date, they have distributed soup and sugar through the local Red Cross network as and when supplies arrive from Albania. They are also busy preparing houses for reconstruction in the town. They buy supplies and equipment locally and when possible distribute them directly to householders; the families are then assisted by builders and local labourers. The Flemish branch is establishing a similar programme centred on Suhareke.

 Finnish Red Cross started work in the Viti health house last week. However, due to a security incident on 15 July the team were evacuated from Vita and will reassess the situation with a view to recommencing their work. The team will provide basic health care, employ and train local staff and carry out repairs. These will include the installation of new windows and improvements to the water system.

 French Red Cross are continuing their food and non-food distributions, which started several weeks ago, to three villages in the Skenderaj Municipality. In addition to the distribution of the French Red Cross parcels, wheat flour and oil, they will also distribute tents, plastic sheeting and short-wave radios to vulnerable families.

 German Red Cross soup kitchen in Pec will provide daily meals for up to 6000 beneficiaries. They are also continuing their food distributions to minorities in Strpce.

 Japanese Red Cross health programme is operational in Decan. They are developing primary health care programmes and reconstructing the health house and clinics in the region.

 Norwegian Red Cross medical management team started their programme at the Mitrovica hospital on 17 July. Their team currently consists of a manager, surgeon, head nurse, administrator and translator. 

 United Arab Emirates Red Crescent signed an agreement with the WFP, the Mother Theresa Society and the local authority on the production and distribution of bread in Gjakova. The bakery produces loaves for all registered beneficiaries in the area. The WFP provide the flour whilst the UAERC are responsible for all other ingredients, plus fuel. In addition, the UAERC are providing food and non-food distributions to families in the area.

 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro)  


Overview: According to UNHCR, nearly 1000 ethnic Albanians went back to their homes in Kosovo over the past week, leaving fewer than 30,000 still in the republic. The collective centres in Rozaje have emptied, but some 200 people are still present in the Neptun and Pine Tree camps.

Meanwhile about 800 Serbs, Montenegrins and Roma arrived in Montenegro during the week. About a half of them came directly from Kosovo, while the rest had previously left Kosovo for Serbia but have now arrived in Berane. The relevant total for this category is now 23,000 and agencies say more are expected soon -- both Serb and Roma.

While the vast majority of new arrivals are accommodated in private houses, there is an urgent need for collective shelters, particularly for the Roma population. The Roma IDPs tend to gather in the Konic camp in Podgorica, where the population has doubled since late June, presently totalling some 6000 people -- 1000 of whom are recent arrivals. The conditions in this camp are said to be deplorable.

Protection: The first assessment of tracing needs was made in the Konic camp. The main problem identified by the assessment is the loss of contact with family members left behind in Kosovo. The ICRC office in Podgorica continued to receive regular requests concerning Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanians in Kosovo. These requests are related to loss of contact, alleged kidnapping and protection needs.

Relief: The first delivery of fresh food to the central kitchen in Berane was carried out and the kitchen supplied hot meals on a daily basis to all IDPs in collective centres. From 19 July, IDPs in five out of six collective centres in the town will start cooking their own meals with fresh food supplied by the Red Cross, while the remaining centre (a furniture shop) will be provided with hot meals from the central kitchen.

 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  

Overview: According to UNHCR, of the seven camps that sheltered up to 100,000 refugees in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, only four remain -- Senokos, Cegrane, Neprosteno and Stenkovec II -- with a combined population of around 8600 refugees. UNHCR hopes to be able to close all the camps by early October and to house remaining refugees in collective centres.


Logistics/Relief Distribution 14-15 July



 Distributed to refugees  

 Distributed to social cases  

Hygiene parcels (Netherlands)




Hygiene parcels (IFRC)




Hygiene parcels (French RC)




Sugar (1 kg packs)




Goods transferred from Albania included these relief goods donated by the Kuwait Red Crescent: 33,920 kg r ice, 159 blankets, 285 clothing sets, 70 baby covers and 21 bed covers.

Two Volvo ambulances, computer terminals and other equipment have been released from customs for the Norwegian Red Cross field hospital.

Health: At the Norwegian Red Cross field hospital at Cegrane camp, admissions have dropped from 34 to six per week. The average number of in-patients is 13, there have been 260 out-patients, one birth and two major operations. The surgical unit was closed on 14 July. The ambulance transfers of elderly and seriously ill patients to Kosovo continues on an almost daily basis. So far 18 people have travelled to the Pristina Hospital in the Norwegian Red Cross ambulance. There is an agreement with the Gostivar Hospital on how to continue health services to the remaining refugees after the hospital closes at the end of the month. 

Protection: For the week ending 15 July, the ICRC tracing offices (Skopje, Tetevo and four camps) have received 1732 visitors and made 552 phone calls. There were 97 Red Cross messages received for distribution, 18 were distributed, 153 were sent back to sender as the intended recipient could not be located and 80 messages were sent out for distribution.

Participating National Society (PNS): The Spanish Red Cross has started programmes in Macedonia. The first involves support to the MRC camp in Pretor: repairing the roof and building a new fence. Refugee children join children from social-case families for 10-day sessions of sports and recreation at the camp.


Overview:   The security situation in Albania continues to cause concern. Threats and blackmail to expatriates and international non-governmental organisations have become commonplace. Some expatriates have been evacuated from the country as a result. A truck belonging to an aid agency was looted in the Kukes main square. Good relations between the Red Cross/Red Crescent and the local population have afforded some degree of protection.

Relief: Despatched items included 302 hygiene parcels to Durres and a shipment of 800 kg of sugar and 800 kg of milk powder to the Tirana region as a donation to the university hospital in the capital.

According to the latest figures, the caseload is slightly more than the estimated 44,000, most of them refugees living with host families. In some areas, the local authorities no longer seem interested in updating refugee figures.

Health: The members of the Shkoder Emergency Response Unit (ERU) have now left for Skopje after the clinic had to be closed. The new medical warehouse has been prepared and the transfer of goods should begin soon.

Protection: From the Kukes area, two satellite telephones (out of four) were sent to the Red Cross/Red Crescent operation in Kosovo. People continued to come back from FRY to Kukes in order to make use of satellite telephones, but this is likely to end when the operation is fully functional in Pristina. In the past week, the 630 telephone calls were made from Kukes to relatives living abroad. A total of 17 people came to the Kukes office to use the web site in order to search for family members.

 Ref. LG-1999-117-ENG