UNHCR resumes operations in divided Kosovo Town

PRISTINA, Jun 28, 2000 -- (AFP) The UN refugee agency resumes its operations in the predominantly Serb sector of the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, five days after pulling out due to attacks on aid vehicles and staff.

"Tomorrow, we will resume our activities on the basis of the statements of Oliver Ivanovic," -- the Serbian leader in northern Mitrovica -- the UNHCR's special Kosovo envoy, Dennis McNamara, told a press conference here Tuesday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees suspended its aid in the sector at midnight Thursday.

Days earlier Serb rioters had smashed up five aid vehicles and beat up a French aid worker.

The UNHCR said that Ivanovic had met with humanitarian agencies on Tuesday and promised to help the authorities boost security and to "support the arrest of the perpetrators" of the violence.

"It's good first step," said UNHCR spokesman Paula Ghedini.

"We hope what he has indicated in words, we will see in actions."

Other humanitarian groups which had suspended their activities -- including Caritas, UNICEF and the World Food Program -- will also resume operations there on Wednesday, she added.

Medecins sans frontiers (MSF), while condemning the violence, has maintained its activities in northern Mitrovica.

The UNHCR provides food, blankets and community services for both Serbs and the few remaining Albanians in the north of the town, split between Serbs and ethnic Albanians since KFOR arrived last June after the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces.

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