The Observer - UN mission chief in Kosovo pleads for more police

Reuters in Paris
Wednesday November 17, 1999

The head of the UN mission in Kosovo called yesterday for more international police and funds to help reconcile tension between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

The mission chief, Bernard Kouchner, said he had asked for 6,000 police officers from abroad to help to prevent violence in the province, but that he had only received 1,700.

"There must even be a patrol to allow an old Serbian woman to go in search of bread," Mr Kouchner said. "Children of all minorities are threatened when they turn a street corner."

The mission chief said he had lobbied the French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, four months ago and thought he had convinced him to provide police to patrol the streets.

"It has been four months since I was there and I still haven't seen any police," Mr Kouchner said.

He said he lacked funds for the UN mission, which is charged with running Kosovo's civilian affairs. He added that he would appeal today to international donors at a meeting in Brussels, where the focus will be on the long-term reconstruction needs of the province.

State workers in Kosovo, who have not been paid for a year, were in danger of resorting to crime, he warned, saying: "They will prefer the black market and the mafia."

Mr Kouchner said the attacks against Serbs by Kosovan Albanians should not be compared to the strategy of ethnic cleansing carried out by the forces under the control of the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic.

"All the political leaders in Kosovo say, on the contrary, that they want to build a Kosovo with all the communities," Mr Kouchner said.

He said he met two women and three men on Monday who had given him a list of 1,500 people who had disappeared from a town of 100,000 inhabitants.

"The men and women cried when they spoke of their children," Mr Kouchner said.

Although the mission chief said he supported the idea of local elections in Kosovo before the summer of 2000, he stressed that voters still need identity cards and that observers would need to be organised.

"We must not treat Kosovans as inhabitants of another planet," Mr Kouchner said. "They are politically educated people.",2763,104293,00.html

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