NYT - Annan Says violence targets Kosovo minorities

December 29, 1999

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Despite progress by the U.N. mission in Kosovo over the past six months the level of violence remains unacceptable, especially against minorities, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday.

In a report to the Security Council, he said the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was ``an important step forward.''

But, referring to the security situation for Serbs, Roma and other minorities, he said that despite the efforts of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), ``the level and nature of the violence in Kosovo, especially against vulnerable minorities, remains unacceptable.''

KFOR and UNMIK entered Kosovo in June after an 11-week NATO bombing campaign to force Yugoslavia to halt oppression of the province's ethnic Albanians and secure the withdrawal of Belgrade's troops and police.

Annan said UNMIK, headed by his special representative, former French health minister Bernard Kouchner, had made ``good progress'' in carrying out its mandate during the past six months.

But more resources were needed to allow for a rapid deployment of international police officers and increased support for the Kosovo police service.

He also recommended the strengthening of the judiciary and penal system, warning that a ``strong response'' was needed to address the problem of ``unofficial law-enforcement actors'' that had been reported to operate within the area.

According to Annan's report, which the Security Council was expected to discuss during closed-door consultations on Wednesday, at least 810,000 refugees who fled during a crackdown by Yugoslav forces earlier this year had returned to their homes and efforts had increased to provide emergency housing rehabilitation.

Most of the occupants of some 50,000 houses deemed beyond repair were living with host families for the winter, Annan said.


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