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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Situation on Kosovo far worse than expected

International agencies and NGOs in Kosovo are facing a grim situation on the ground with far worse damage to towns and villages than expected. After spending billions on the war against Yugoslavia and peacekeeping, donor governments have little cash left for reconstruction, leaving agencies without the money or time to prepare for October snows.

The funding crisis and a lack of essential materials such as timber and tiles have made the United Nations High Commission for Refugees unable to make plans for the winter. Of the $389m it needs for the rest of the year, only $156m had been received by the middle of last week.

The situation is even worsened by the desperate state of Kosovo's manufacturing infrastructure. There are no working brick or tile factories in Kosovo, and the lack of working wood mills means cut timber for roofs must be imported from as far away as Denmark.

Many returning Kosovo Albanians have brought with them the light tents from the refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia, but these are inadequate for Kosovo's sub-zero winter temperatures.

Villagers will do much of the repairing themselves. Aid finance will focus on supplying the materials. Initial deliveries will come from UNHCR stocks. Future supplies will be ordered from commercial companies.

Source: Free Serbia

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