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Kosovo Report: August 19, 1999

19 August 1999, Number 25, Volume 1

UNMIK, KFOR URGE ALBANIANS TO COOPERATE. UN Special Representative Bernard Kouchner and KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson issued a joint statement on 18 August in Prishtina calling on ethnic Albanians to cooperate with the peacekeepers and the civilian UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The statement stressed that "we will...only succeed in generating a secure environment with the full cooperation of the local population." Jackson and Kouchner expressed understanding for the fear of many Kosovor Serbs and Roma. The two men stressed: "We are dealing with the situation.... We are providing extensive protection for Serb and other minority communities and individuals."

UNMIK spokeswoman Nadia Younes said: "The primary aim of the UN presence in Kosovo is to provide a secure environment for all Kosovors, whatever their ethnic origin. At present the Serbian and other minority communities clearly feel threatened. UNMIK and KFOR condemn the illegal and threatening activities, which have been taking place. We are working closely together to stamp out this behavior." Younes said that KFOR is patrolling Kosovo 24 hours a day together with 700 UN police, adding that KFOR arrested 20 suspects on 17 and 18 August.

Younes also said: "We welcome the recent statement by [UCK] General [Agim] Ceku, condemning these crimes and instructing all members of the UCK to respect human rights." Meanwhile, Ramadan Avdiu, who is an official of the UCK's provisional government of Kosovo, issued a statement pledging to investigate such crimes. He added that such crimes are unacceptable, because they are compromising the UCK.

BUGAJSKI SAYS UN WAS TOO SLOW. Janusz Bugajski, the director of the Washington-based Center for Strategic Studies told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service: "I would not blame so much NATO, which has only a certain number of troops," for the violence in Kosovo. Bugajski argued that KFOR is simply not in a position to protect each house. On the other hand Bugajski accused the UN for failing to deploy international police forces, justice officials, and local administrators quickly enough.

He also said that both moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova and UCK leaders share part of the blame. Bugajski argued that Rugova was not ready to get involved in building local institutions immediately after the deployment of NATO. At the same time, UCK officials behaved as if they had the right to govern Kosovo immediately. Bugajski added that the international administration is now trying to develop the moderate wing within the UCK.

WHO WARNS OF DISEASES IN KOSOVO. Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in Geneva on 18 August that Kosovo faces possible epidemics of major diseases. To avert this, they urged, public health systems must be promptly restored and a vaccination program launched, Reuters reported. The agency added that an unspecified number of cases of polio, hepatitis, and hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the province in recent days. Many children born since 1997 have not been vaccinated against polio. Meanwhile, Kouchner told medical workers at Prishtina's main hospital that The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) will pay their salaries, AP reported. UNMIK has earmarked a budget of 450,000 German Marks ($ 248,000) for salaries of 2,500 health workers.