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Crisis in the Balkans - Situation Report No 58

17-08-1999 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.  


 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia)  

 Overview : The influx of IDPs (internally displaced persons) from Kosovo continues on a daily basis, but in smaller n umber than before. The joint field office in Nis reports that, according to data collected from local Red Cross branches, there are currently 28,314 IDPs in this region. The joint office in Novi Sad reports the total number of Kosovo IDPs in Vojvodina at 6,700. The joint field office in Belgrade, covering the Kragujevac, Sabac and Belgrade regions, reports the latest figure as 66,000 IDPs from Kosovo (with 35,266 IDPs only in Belgrade region).

In south and central Serbia, the number of refugees and IDPs staying with host families is decreasing as more people move into collective centres, where there is food assistance and a safe water supply.

 Relief : During the past week, 61 trucks delivered a total of 932 MT of food and non-food items to Red Cross regional warehouses in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sabac, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Nis, Vranje and Pristina with 42 MT of wheat flour for the soup kitchen programme. This involves lunch parcels for 45,000 beneficiaries, hot meals for 55,000 and an individual parcels programme for 46,000 beneficiaries.

Incoming food and non-food for the past week was 2,000 MT.

The Yugoslav Red Cross (YRC) is facing serious problems with the capacity of their pipeline, in particular with the distribution at the local level. More warehouse space (3,600 square metres) has been rented and steps are being taken to speed up the distribution process.

Part of the relief goods in stock were sent from Belgrade to the Uzice region. Also 17 trucks carrying foam mattresses for flooded regions, arrived in Belgrade. 780 cleaning kits need to be checked out in laboratories before being distributed. The YRC is still working on a list of collective centres for the distribution.

 Health : Surgical items worth 12,000 CHF were delivered to the hospital for plastic surgery in Belgrade. The hospital in Kraljevo received a delivery of surgical items worth 49,000 CHF and the hospital in Valjevo received items worth 28,500 CHF.

Surveys of medical needs were carried out at the psychiatric hospital in Gornja Topionica (where 1,800 hygiene parcels were delivered), the Mother and Child Institute, an orthopaedic hospital and an emergency hospital in Belgrade.

Visits were paid to the Red Cross in Nis regarding the humanitarian pharmacy programme, and to the Red Cross in Bujanovac.

The health delegate met with a representative of the ministry of health to discuss a health programme for the Roma population in Serbia.

The water and sanitation team delivered one generator to the Blood Transfusion Centre in Belgrade and carried out a follow-up visit to Novi Sad in relation to ongoing water projects. A visit was made to the muscular dystrophy centre in Novi Pazar (Sandjak area) regarding emergency repairs. A delivery of chlorine gas to Pristina was made last week.

 Protection : The tracing agency in Belgrade received 205 Red Cross messages for distribution; 592 messages were distributed and 14 were returned to sender. 32 allegations of arrest were received, seven family reunion requests were opened and five family reunions were carried out.

 PNS (Participating National Societies) : The British Red Cross desk officer for the Balkans visited the Roma village of Veliki Rit near Novi Sad and the refugee camp in Subotica in relation to the soup kitchen programme and a repairs project. The Italian Red Cross visited Kragujevac regarding a possible six-month involvement in the programme. A Norwegia n Red Cross visit is also underway.


 Overview : Although violence has levelled off in some areas of Kosovo, the rate of incidents is still worryingly high. Apart from the security situation, the biggest concern in Kosovo now is preparation for the coming winter. The destruction wrought by the war left many thousands of people without a permanent home or adequate shelter. Reconstruction and rehabilitation will take a long time and winter, which can be extremely harsh in Kosovo, is only weeks away.

 Relief : The ICRC carried out 23 distributions of food and non-food items to 133,000 beneficiaries in Kosovo. Now that the pipeline from Skopje is open again, more supplies were available this week. The total amount of food assistance distributed was 519 MT, while non-food assistance amounted to 90 MT.

Winter wheat seeds and fertiliser for the ICRC's agricultural programme have now been ordered, with distributions due to start by the end of August. Farmers in four different municipalities will receive a total of 3,350 MT of seeds and 2,625 MT of fertiliser. An agronomist will monitor the progress of the crop, which will be harvested in March/April 2000.

 Health : An additional 150 rural water wells were cleaned and disinfected in Glogovac and Srbica municipalities, serving a target population of 2,362 beneficiaries. Dead animals and heavy stones as well as domestic debris and organic waste were discovered in many of the wells. To date, 605 wells have been cleaned and disinfected by the ICRC team, thereby providing access to safe drinking water for some 24,000 beneficiaries.

The final basic kit for water analysi s was delivered to the Institute of Public Health (IPH) in Dakovica. The emphasis will now be on training technicians to make best use of the items contained in the kit. The ICRC has commenced a detailed survey of IPH branches to determine both training and equipment needs.

 Protection : As more and more people re-establish contact with their relatives themselves, demand for the ICRC's mobile satphone service is steadily decreasing. It is no longer necessary to provide the service in Kosovo's main towns, but in remote villages and for vulnerable minority groups in isolated areas the service is still extremely useful. In the 50 or so villages visited by the mobile units this week, over 4,100 calls were successfully put through, 725 Red Cross messages were exchanged and 80 allegations of arrest were taken. In addition, 3,450 calls were made by people from the ICRC offices in Pristina and Prizren.

 PNS : The Austrian Red Cross is implementing a bilateral project to provide integrated support (supplying food and non-food assistance, construction services and materials, agricultural tools) for 27 villages in and around the town of Istok in western Kosovo. They have identified around 1,000 houses for winterisation, in which at least one room will be made habitable for the coming winter. Eight technicians and an architect are currently assessing the properties and the first delivery of building materials has arrived.

The American Red Cross has completed an assessment of the town water supply in Viti and is now drawing up a project proposal and budget. They have also made a second assessment of the need for soup kitchens, and from October plan to run outlets in Mitrovica and Vucitrn which would provide a daily hot meal for up to 7,000 beneficiaries.

The Belgian Red Cross is progressing well wi th its programme to rehabilitate 321 houses in the Suva Reka region. So far, 15 houses have been winterised and electricity has been installed in 120 homes.

Of the 11 health facilities targeted for rehabilitation by the Japanese Red Cross in the badly damaged area of Decan, nine are already operational. Repairs were made to the buildings, medical staff were identified and basic furniture and equipment, as well as essential drugs for chronic diseases, were supplied. The 11 health centres and clinics cover approximately 31,000 beneficiaries.

The Red Crescent Societies of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are distributing food to beneficiaries in Prizren and Dakovica, respectively. The national societies of Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden are currently either determining needs for programmes, drafting project proposals or preparing to implement their projects.

 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro)  

 Overview : According to government officials, the number of Kosovo Albanian IDPs remaining in Montenegro is estimated at up to 14,000. The Commissioner for Displaced Persons is expected to start a re-registration of IDPs at the end of September, a process that will clarify the number.

Montenegrin officials have expressed concern over future movements of Serbs from Serbia to Montenegro. At present, most Serbs coming from Serbia have family connections in Montenegro.

 Relief : Fresh food supplies for the kitchen programme in the north continued as usual (3 MT of fresh food, 3,000 litres of milk and fresh fruit to 1,108 beneficiaries). The ICRC is presently distributing to nine collective centres on a daily basis. Hygiene parcels (320) and baby parcels (262) were distributed to collective centres in the north.

 Health : A survey of winter needs in the whole of Montenegro started on 16 August. A visit was made to the Roma camps in Niksic where 857 registered Roma IDPs, mainly from Pec area, are sheltering. The majority of barracks lack running water and toilets and the overall living conditions are poor. The local authorities announced that a new site for a Roma camp would be found outside the town of Niksic.

 Protection : The offices in Berane and Podgorica continued to register new requests from non-Albanians IDPs regarding their relatives who stayed behind in Kosovo. The offices are regularly approached by relatives for the results of previously reported allegations of arrest. Last week, nine Red Cross messages were sent for distribution, nine messages were received for distribution, three were distributed and seven sent back to sender.

The office in Ulcinj was closed down by the end of last week as planned.

 Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  

 Relief : Late deliveries of food commodities have delayed some of the July distributions to social cases. They continue this week. August distributions to social cases will start at the end of August and beginning of September. The August planning figures for food commodities to be distributed to 71,000 social case families are: 1,775.2 MT wheat flour, 213.8 MT beans, 213.8 MT vegetable oil, 142 MT sugar, 35.5 MT salt. Donors are: Catholic Relief Services, InterSoS, Mercy Corps, American Red Cross, German Red Cross and French Red Cross. Distributions are done through 30 branches of the Macedonian Red Cross.

Logistics/Relief Distribution 2-12 August:



 Distributed to refugees  

 Distributed to social cases  

Mattresses (Swedish RC)








Matresses (Norwegian RC)








Blankets (Netherlands RC)




Hygiene parcels (IFRC)




Hygiene parcels (American RC)




Hygiene parcels (French RC)




Baby parcels (Swedish RC)




Clothing (boxes) (Croatian RC)




Shoes (boxes) (Croatian RC)




Kitchen sets (Netherlands RC)




Jerrycans (Netherlands RC)








Rice (kg) (Bulgarian RC)




Rice (kg)




Food parcels








Water (1.5 litre each)




Vegetables (cans)




Meat (cans)





Donations to various orphanages, hospitals and social institutions were: eight boxes b lankets, two bundles towels, 85 educational kits, 800 boxes clothing, 1,050 cans vegetables, 1,050 kg flour.

Transferred to ICRC warehouse for Kosovo were: 1,560 student kits donated by the British Red Cross, 5,269 1.5-litre water bottles; 24 jerrycans.

The ICRC dispatched the following relief goods to Kosovo from the Skopje warehouse during the week to 14 August: 43,552 individual food parcels (10 kg each), 408 MT wheat flour, 14 sleeping bags.

 Health : 20 local staff from the Federation and ICRC attended a basic first aid seminar at the Macedonian Red Cross headquarters in Skopje. There were two four-hour sessions where a medical doctor and MRC volunteers reviewed CPR, management of an unconscious person, control of bleeding, wounds and treatments for shock.

 Protection : Since the beginning of the crisis, the ICRC tracing agency has registered 1,851 vulnerable people, including 894 unaccompanied children. Cumulative figures through 12 August are: 918 family reunion requests opened, among which were 225 unaccompanied minors; 676 family reunion requests were closed. The ICRC has done 273 family reunions, among them 111 between unaccompanied minors and their families. An additional 366 family reunions have been done, but without any family reunion request opened. 

For the week ending 12 August, the ICRC tracing offices received 441 visitors and made 284 phone calls. There were 66 Red Cross messages received for distribution and 0 were distributed, 134 were sent back to sender, and 22 were sent for distribution.


 Overview : NATO has confirmed that the successor force to AFOR will arrive in Albania during September, providing logistical support to the KFOR force in Kosovo and maintaining the supply line between Durres and the Kosovo border. The force will comprise 2,500 troops, mainly Italian.

 Relief :   The August distribution of food parcels has continued, targeting both the remaining Kosovar refugees and host families, and also socially-vulnerable Albanians. In the past week, 1,374 refugees, 190 host families, and 1,050 social cases received parcels in Durres, Fier and Tirana. This included 2,100 French Red Cross food parcels, 1,564 Swedish Red Cross food parcels, 505 ECHO family hygiene kits, flour and UHT milk.

The social assistance programme will target up to 12% of each district's local population and continue for a minimum of three months. The International Federation is still looking for PNS to take on long-term assistance programmes.

Albanian Customs has advised that international organisations will once again be required to declare goods before they come into the country. This will mean delays of up to 15 days in the arrival of goods in Albania, and the need for storage while goods are in transit.

The Red Cross and UNHCR have negotiated the shared use of a helicopter for return trips to Kukes, on Tuesdays and Fridays each week, starting Tuesday 17 August.

 Health : Medicines and other goods were donated to Peshkopi, Bulqize and the Tirana military hospital last week. Further hospital donations will be made to Lezhe and Shkoder this week. The Japanese Red Cross also made a donation of medical supplies to the Mamuras clinic following the closure of its dispensary in Mamuras.

The assessment of social institutions, psychiatric clinics and centres for street children has been underway for two weeks. Berat was visited last week, and this week six institutions in the south will be visited.

The International Federation is working with the Albanian Red Cross on developing a disaster preparedness stock of medical supplies for up to 5,000 people.

 PNS : The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society continues to be active in Albania. Last week, it presented a new medical clinic and training centre at Vore, near Tirana, to the Ministry of Health, which will manage and staff the clinic.

New programmes being finalised by the Belgian Red Cross include rehabilitation of part of Durres central hospital, a soup kitchen in Durres, cooperation with the French Red Cross on the rehabilitation of the Elbasan psychiatric hospital, and first aid courses for women.

It is hoped the American Red Cross feeding programme for 30,000 socially vulnerable people in Albania will get underway during the first week of September. The final timing will depend on local authorities providing the beneficiary lists.

The German Red Cross health assistance programme is due to start in September, involving distributions to 14 hospitals throughout Albania. The German Red Cross is also investigating the rehabilitation of Korce hospital and is planning to move remaining food supplies from Korce to Kosovo.

The Swiss Red Cross is continuing its support to the remaining Kosovar refugees in the south, and will provide assistance to 3,600 socially vulnerable until November. It is also investigating further programmes, including a Vlore soup kitchen and training for the Albanian Red Cross.

 LG 1999-156-ENG