Crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Update 31.05.01
31-05-2001 Operational Update
Events in Kumanovo region
On Wednesday (30.05), as in the last three weeks, ICRC proposed its services to facilitate the evacuation of civilians who wished to be evacuated from the villages in the conflict zone, among which Lipkovo. ICRC continues to follow the humanitarian situation on an hour by hour basis. As it was previously stated, ICRC remains extremely concerned by the plight of possibly thousands of civilians who still remain in the affected area.
On Saturday (26.05), after receiving the necessary security guarantees, an ICRC team was able to carry out a short mission to the outskirts of the village of Lipkovo. The purpose of the visit was to discuss ICRC offer to facilitate the evacuation of civilians from Lipkovo who wished to be evacuated. Indeed, on Friday (25.05) and Saturday morning (26.05), ICRC received various phone calls from civilians in Lipkovo which indicated that a few thousands civilians from various villages of the directly affected area (Slupcane, Orizari and Otlja) had gathered in the village of Lipkovo and wished to be evacuated. This short visit did not enable to assess the humanitarian situation in Lipkovo. It is impossible to independently verify the number of people who are currently in the village of Lipkovo.
The same team evacuated from the outskirts of Lipkovo one women and two children, one of them with chronic illness.
Saturday's visit (26.05) was the tenth time ICRC had entered the affected area. So far, since the crisis began more than three weeks ago ICRC has evacuated 375 civilians from Slupcane, Vaksince, Lipkovo, Otlja and Orizari.
On Friday (25.05), three ICRC teams transported 83 civilians from Tabanovce (a village between Vaksince and Kumanovo) to Kumanovo hospital. Among them vulnerable cases of a larger group (estimation is approximately one thousand) of IDPs who came on foot from Vaksince towards Tabanovce under the monitoring of Macedonian forces.
The same day, ICRC medical delegate visited in Skopje hospital a seven years old girl from Slupcane. She was heavily wounded on Thursday (24.05) in Slupcane when the basement where she took refuge with her family was shelled.
On Wednesday (23.05), an ICRC team carried out a mission in Slupcane and facilitated the evacuation of 36 vulnerable people.
It is important to stress that a purely humanitarian response is not the ultimate solution to alleviate the plight of the people currently caught up in a desperate situation. ICRC urges all those involved in the current events to find a solution which means that civilians are not exposed to hostilities in this way.
A first round of distribution to IDPs from villages West of Kumanovo is ongoing in co-operation with MRC branch in Kumanovo.
The ICRC is currently leading the Red Cross / Red Crescent response to the crisis in Macedonia. It co-ordinates the response, working closely with the Macedonian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.