Water crisis hits Pristina as Kosovo sweats out heatwave

PRISTINA, Aug 25, 2000 -- (AFP) The Kosovo capital Pristina was without water supplies for much of Thursday after a storm knocked out a pump, increasing the misery of residents sweltering in a Balkan heatwave.

One of the capital's three pumps was already out of action and had been sent to Germany for repairs when a second broke down Wednesday in a storm which briefly battered the city, UN spokeswoman Susan Manuel told AFP.

Water and electricity shortages have been a regular problem in Kosovo this year, which has seen the highest sustained summer temperatures since 1946 according to Yugoslavian forecasters.

On Thursday thermometers were again approaching 40 Celsius.

Pristina's population has increased massively since the end of Kosovo's 1998-1999 civil war, as refugees returned to the country but preferred the city to the wartorn countryside with its ruined villages.

The city is also home to thousands of international troops, administrators, aid workers and journalists who arrived in the province on the back of the arrival of the KFOR peacekeeping force and the UN mission to Kosovo last year.

Work to overhaul Kosovo's power generators began at the start of the month and power cuts, already a daily occurrence, began to arrive two or three times a day. Water has until recently been less of a problem, with taps running dry for only a couple of hours per day.

But late on Wednesday supplies dried up completely in central Pristina, and did not return until after 6:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) Thursday had not returned.

The head of the European Union-led reconstruction pillar of the UN administration, Alan Pearson, visited the broken pump Thursday to see what could be done, but some Pristina residents are already losing patience.

"How come they have water and electricity in Belgrade, which was bombed last year by NATO and is under economic sanctions, but Pristina, which has been under international control for 13 months, is still without basic necessities?" demanded a visiting Dutch journalist.

Original article