UN says Kosovo still too violentBy R. Jeffrey Smith
Saturday, February 12
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia, Feb. 11 The top two officials responsible for monitoring human rights in Kosovo declared today that the international community and local politicians have failed over the past eight months to provide adequate security for ethnic minorities, who have been victimized by an unending stream of violence.
In one of the most self-critical assessments issued so far by officials at the U.N. mission here, the latest quarterly report on the status of minorities said "ethnically motivated crime continues on a regular basis across the province," leaving most members of ethnic minorities in a "precarious" situation.
Dennis McNamara, the U.N. official responsible for humanitarian issues, described the record of violence in the past three months as "horrendous." He said that minority Serbs, Roma (Gypsies), ethnic Turks, Muslim Slavs and the majority ethnic Albanian population still are targets of reprisal attacks and intimidation.
Continuing a pattern that began when NATO soldiers entered Kosovo last June after an 11-week NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, most victims of ethnically motivated violence were Serbs and most of the assailants were ethnic Albanians. Kosovo Albanians now comprise 95 percent of the province's population. Kosovo is a Serbian province within Yugoslavia, although it fell under an international protectorate administered by the United Nations following the withdrawal of Serb-led Yugoslav forces.
"It's depressing to again, to go to you and the public for the fourth time and say that things haven't changed very much or improved very much," said Daan Everts, head of the office of the 55-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe here. "People are still at risk."
At least 20 murders, house burnings, grenade attacks and acts of intimidation were registered in Kosovo in the past three days alone, and violent clashes between Serbs and Albanians last week in and around the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica left 10 people dead and at least another 20 wounded.
"No one here is free from blame. We don't see the action to control it, we don't see action to support investigation, we don't have any witnesses coming forward from the community," McNamara said.
Everts particularly faulted foreign powers that he said had failed to contribute enough police officers to the U.N.-administered force. Roughly 2,000 police officers are deployed here now, one-third the number called for by NATO officials and chief U.N. administrator Bernard Kouchner. "There's no hiding this. The international community has not come up to its own promises," Everts said.