UN sets up body to monitor violence in Kosovo

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 8, 2000 -- (AFP) The United Nations administration in Kosovo has set up a body to monitor ethnic violence there, a UN spokeswoman said on Monday.

In a statement from the provincial capital, Pristina, spokeswoman Susan Manuel said the purpose of the body would be to compile statistics and "to define killings as political or non-political."

This would enable the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to "determine what kind of incidents are political and whether there is a political trend going on," she said.

Manuel said the new body would include representative of UNMIK's head, Bernard Kouchner, as well as the UNMIK police, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the province.

She said it was essential to avoid violence during the campaign for municipal elections, due to take place in October.

The Central Election Commission would investigate complaints of political harassment, while the police would investigate criminal acts, she said.

Earlier on Monday, the Nobel prize-winning humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) announced that it was pulling out of northern Kosovo in protest at what it described as the UN's failure to protect ethnic minorities.

"More than a year after UNMIK and KFOR assumed responsibility for civil and military administration, a large number of people still live in extreme insecurity," MSF said in a statement issued in Pristina and Brussels.

Kouchner is a co-founder of MSF (Doctors Without Borders).

"Ethnic groups are continually terrorized. There are acts of organized violence against them ... that amounts to ethnic cleansing," said the head of the MSF mission in north Kosovo, Philippe Rosen.

Jeroen Uytterschau, head of Balkan operations at MSF Belgium, told AFP in Brussels that five expatriate medical staff would pull out of Serb-held areas of northern Kosovo during the course of this week.

Thirty local staff would go on "standby" status, he said.

Spanish and French MSF staff elsewhere in Kosovo will continue their work.

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