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ICRC, Red Cross and Red Crescent activities in Kosovo

31-08-2001 Operational Update




 The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is engaged in a wide-ranging operation to provide emergency and longer-term help for victims of the conflict in Kosovo. National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies from 12 countries are involved, along with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Movement's activities are coordinated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  



 Missing persons and detainees  


The ICRC continues its efforts to shed light on the fate or whereabouts of more than 3,760 people still unaccounted for in connection with the Kosovo conflict. As well as active tracing, making representations to all authorities and parties to the conflict and collecting ante-mortem data, the ICRC continues to chair the Working Group on Missing Persons which every week brings together representatives of the UNMIK Police/Missing Persons Unit, the UNMIK Bureau for Detainees and Missing Persons, the OSCE, the International Commission for Missing Persons, KFOR, the ICTY and the Forensic Insititute in Pristina.

So far this year the ICRC has organized 18 family reunifications (three abroad, 14 from Kosovo to Serbia proper, one from Serbia proper to Kosovo), arranged for 12 visits by families (in total 129 persons) to their relatives detained in Serbia proper, and exchanged more than 3,000 RCMs between detainees and their families. It has also carried out 20 visits to persons deprived of their freedom in nine places of detention under the responsibility of UNMIK or KFOR. During these visits 183 detainees were see n and registered for the first time, and 86 detainees were subsequently revisited.

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 Mine awareness  

The ICRC is carrying out a community-based programme, the'' Safer Village " plan, in villages threatened by the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance, defining together with the community how this has affected their daily lives and how they can avoid risks.

Since the population movements from southern Serbia and fYROM, ICRC mine-awareness teams have been present at crossing points and have stepped up their distribution of posters and leaflets and the holding of information sessions in order to prevent incidents involving mines/UXO.

In accordance with the memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC), the ICRC continues collecting information on casualties.

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 Health care  


  •  Hospitals  

Rehabilitation work on Mitrovica Hospital is still continuing.

The structural repairs on Gijlan/Gnijlane Hospital have nearly been completed by the Finnish Red Cross.

The outpatient department of Peja/Pec Hospital is being renovated by the Italian Red Cross.

  •  Health facilities  

A health facility in Lapje Selo is being set up by the French Red Cross.

 Ambulanta No.5 in Peja/Pec is now functioning as a family health centre and training centre for doctors and nurses. The rehabilitation work was carried out by the Swiss Red Cross.

  •  Training  

Also in Peja/Pec, the Swiss Red Cross is conducting training courses for nurses and a family medicine training programme for doctors.

As part of the effort to build up the capacity of the " Red Cross of Kosova " , health monitors are being trained in family health education.

In Prizren, the Belgium Red Cross is running a family education programme (mother and child care).

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 Upgrading the first-aid skills of the local Red Cross  


The RCK is embarking on a traditional activity carried out all over the world by the Red Cross: first aid. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with the cooperation of the American Red Cross and the Saudi Arabian Red Crescent, have put together a programme aimed at helping people to limit the severity and complications of accidents or sudden illness within their families, communities and workplaces.

The Saudi Red Crescent has held numerous sessions to train instructors who will pass their knowledge on to the general public, and organized one train-the-trainers course. The American Red Cross held a three-day training course at the end of July. Eleven RCK instructors received instruction in " teaching and learning " , information on the new first-aid manual and an opportunity to practise teaching. First-aid equipment and necessary training support will be provided for RCK branches, whose extensive network ensures easy access all over Kosovo.

In order to maintain and upgrade skills for the teaching of first aid, the Yugoslav Red Cross with the support o f the International Federation organized a training session for 15 trainers of the " Red Cross of Kosovo and Metohija " in June 2001.

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 Support for water boards  

The ICRC continues to provide 24 water boards with supplies such as spare parts and pumps. The leak detection team is currently training staff from different water boards.

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 Promoting humanitarian principles  

It is the responsibility of all governments to ensure that their armed forces receive proper instruction on the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. The ICRC's role is to help governments meet that obligation, and it deploys trained del egates around the world to do this.

In Kosovo, as in Bosnia, the ICRC is working to ensure that international forces engaged in peace-support operations know and understand the ICRC's mandate, working principles and activities. The aim is to facilitate working relations in Kosovo and to establish a sound basis for other contexts where the ICRC might interact with the same forces. Dissemination sessions are organized regularly in the various KFOR brigades. Training programmes aimed at promoting international humanitarian law and human rights are also under way with the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and the Kosovo Police Service (KPS).

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 Local families hosting refugees from fYROM  

The " Red Cross of Kosova " (RCK), with the support of the International Federation, is launching a " Host family stabilization and support " project. Monthly cash stipends will be provided by UNHCR to help stabilize the Kosovo host family system.

Since March 2001, when the first refugees arrived from fYROM, the RCK has been registering potential host families so that refugees quickly find accommodation.

To date the vast majority of the refugees has been housed with local families or in rooms/apartments owned by local people.

The welcome given the refugees and the genero sity of the community recalls that received by the Kosovars fleeing Kosovo in 1999. The monthly grant of 40 DM for families who have housed refugees for more than three months since April 2001 is seen as recognition of their generosity and will help to cover basic expenses. Criteria for eligibility will be announced over the radio and on posters.

The ICRC has provided more than 80 tonnes of wheat flour and 7,500 individual food parcels for refugees from fYROM since the forst arrivals of refugees in March 2001.

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 Medical assistance for minority groups  


From August 2000 to June 2001, the Belgian Red Cross ran a programme entitled'' medical assistance for minority groups that are geographically isolated or victims of ethnically-based discrimination'' . This has now been handed over to municipal authorities and will form an integral part of their own health programmes.

The aim was to increase access to primary health care for Serbs and Bosniacs by organizing home visits to members of these communities. The area covered comprised the town of Prizren and villages in the Zupa Valley (Mushnikove, Drajcici, Planjane, Bogosevac, Lokvica), with a total population of 11,000. Another aim was to strengthen the local population's links with the Re cane and Mushnikove health facilities. The Belgian Red Cross also completed the rehabilitation of the " health houses " in Recane and Mushnikove.

A mobile clinic conducted regular medical consultations (280 per month) and transferred more serious cases to the above-mentioned villages (three or four per month).

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 Construction of Decane/Decan health house by the Japanese Red Cross and the ICRC  

The Japanese Red Cross started its activities in Kosovo in June 1999. Together with the ICRC, it ran a project entitled " Rehabilitation of basic health care in Decane/Decan'' . In order to restore access to medical treatment, support was provided for 11 ambulantas (health posts) and one health house in Decane/Decan municipality in July and August 1999.

This was followed by reconstruction of four ambulantas in Irzniq/Rzniq, Prilep, Gramaqel/Gramocelj Pobërgjë/Poberdje and Ratish/Ratis villages.

The last phase was the construction in Decane/Decan of a health house which was later renamed the Main Family Health Centre. Building work started in April 2000 and was completed a year later. Three two-storey blocks connected by a passageway house the administration, the emergency room, gynaecology, internal medicine , general medicine, otorhinolaringology, dentistry, an immunization centre, paediatrics, a laboratory, radiology and a kitchen and dining room, with a total floor area of 1,552.5 square metres. Basic medical equipment and furniture were also provided. The handover ceremony took place on 30 May 2001.

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 Psychosocial programme  

Under the psychosocial programme, consultations were held with beneficiaries continue. A total of 25 paraprofessional counsellors and six psychosocial delegates are providing psychological support and social services in 10 municipalities.

Through six psychosocial centres and mobile outreach teams, over 3,000 consultations were held each month. In addition, family support was offered to those awaiting the release of relatives from prison and refugee families crossing the border from fYROM.

The recruitment of volunteers began in five RCK branches. The first round of training is due to begin in September, marking the start of the long-planned transition to a volunteer-based programme.

The Danish Red Cross continues to train teachers to give appropriate support to children suffering from psychological disorders.