Kosovo an anomaly in Europe

PRISTINA, Apr 27, 2000 -- (Reuters) Kosovo is a backward anomaly in Europe with half of adults jobless and large extended families living in one house, according to the first post-war population survey in the province.

Preliminary results of the survey were released on Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the local Kosovo Office of Statistics.

The demographic and reproductive health study is intended to help Kosovo's international authorities decide priorities in restoring the rule of law and fostering democracy and free-market development in the battered Yugoslav province.

"The Kosovo population is different from the rest of Europe in many ways," the three agencies said in a statement.

As examples it said:

- Half the population is under 25 years of age.

- An average five-six people in one household. Eighty-percent contained more than one nuclear family.

- Half of the active population is unemployed.

- Thirty-six percent of men say they are supported financially by a private individual, a reflection of the large affluent Kosovo Albanian diaspora in the West. Personal or clan connections are Kosovars' key bulwark against ruin.

- Twenty-five percent of Kosovars between age 25 and 40 live abroad. If more refugees return to Kosovo either voluntarily or by deportation, as is likely, it will complicate the task of rebuilding the shattered infrastructure.

- Women have an average of 2.5 children, well above the European norm. But fertility rates have fallen for 20 years despite low contraceptive use. A high abortion rate was cited.


The findings suggested that 40 percent of Kosovo's 1.8 million population left during the 1998-99 conflict between ethnic Albanian separatist guerrillas and Serbian security forces, while 20 percent were internally displaced.

They further indicated that some 9,000 people died in Kosovo "due to the war" in the 12 months prior to the survey, which began last November, five months after fighting ended.

Data analyst Chantal Blayo said the estimate was based on unconfirmed accounts by the 7,343 households queried.

She said 90 percent of the deaths occurred in March-May 1999, when Belgrade's anti-guerrilla crackdown was at its peak, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes as NATO carried out air strikes to stop the bloodshed.

UN war crimes investigators are active in Kosovo.

The survey also found infant mortality at 25 per 1,000, one of the highest rates in Europe.

Antenatal care is inadequate - 15 percent of pregnant women do not see a health worker, 20 percent of deliveries occurred at home without professional help.

Education levels are poor among women below 50, most of whom did not reach secondary school.

"The reason for the survey was a basic lack of information in Kosovo after the tremendous upheaval (here). This was hampering rehabilitation and many reconstruction efforts," IOM envoy Michael Barton told a news conference.

He said the survey found almost 40 percent of refugees did not return directly to their homes, which were often wrecked, pointing to a big shift in population from rural to urban areas. Kosovo's small cities now heave with people.

The survey covered 7,343 households with 40,918 people across Kosovo. A demographer from the University of Bordeaux in France presented the data.

Original article