1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolutions
1160 (1998) of 31 March 1998, 1199 (1998) of 23 September 1998 and 1203 (1998)
of 24 October 1998. It addresses the comprehensive monitoring regime
established under Security Council resolution 1160 (1998) and humanitarian and
human rights aspects of the situation in Kosovo covering the period since my
previous report of 30 January 1999 (S/1999/99). Information contained in this
report complements that provided by the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in his report to the Council of
26 February 1999 (S/1999/214). As I indicated in my letter of transmittal to
that report, I have discontinued comprehensive reporting on the situation in
Kosovo, which is being covered by OSCE in compliance with the Council's wish to
be kept informed about the situation there.
2. As stated in my report of 5 August 1998 (S/1998/712), the overall resources
pledged by organizations willing to participate in the monitoring of the
prohibitions imposed by resolution 1160 (1998) did not allow for the
establishment of a comprehensive monitoring regime as envisaged by that
resolution. I also stated that, nonetheless, their proposed contributions,
coupled with that of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP),
could provide a useful framework for reporting on violations and for assisting
the Committee established by resolution 1160 (1998) in discharging its mandate.
These organizations, as well as UNPREDEP, have provided useful information in
their reports to the above Committee.
3. The termination of the mandate of UNPREDEP will affect efforts to monitor
the implementation of the prohibitions established by Security Council
resolution 1160 (1998). Accordingly, the Security Council may wish to
reconsider the modalities for the monitoring regime. In the meantime, it would
be necessary for representatives of participating organizations and the
Secretariat to continue to hold periodic meetings in order to exchange
information and address practical issues arising in connection with their
4. The humanitarian and human rights situation in Kosovo remains grave. The
general insecurity, combined with continuing and unpredictable outbreaks of
violence, has resulted in a cycle of displacement and return throughout Kosovo.
During the reporting period, targeted killings of civilians, summary executions,
mistreatment of detainees and new abduction cases were reported almost daily.
Since 20 January, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights (UNHCHR) has registered more than 65 cases of violent death, including
one in custody. The Office's background investigations of targeted violence
further confirmed the observations expressed in my previous report that the
nature of violent activity in Kosovo, which has now spread to urban areas, has
increased the number of persons who live in fear of being directly affected by
violence or arbitrary treatment.
5. While clashes between the Serbian security forces and Kosovo Albanian
paramilitary units continued at a relatively lower level, civilians in Kosovo
are increasingly becoming the main target of violent acts. An increasingly
common pattern of individual killings throughout the region accounts for the
majority of deaths. Most violent incidents have remained unclaimed. This has
contributed to the climate of fear and insecurity, causing deep distrust among
communities and adding to the humanitarian and social problems in Kosovo.
6. The following narrative of when and where major incidents occurred suggests
how violence against civilians in Kosovo continues to spread. On
18 January 1999, a Serb man was killed after reportedly failing to stop at a
Kosovo Liberation Army's (KLA) roadblock in Nedakovac, near Kosovska Mitrovica.
On 19 January, the body of a Kosovo Albanian teacher was discovered near Istok.
On 20 January, two Serbian women (mother and daughter) were wounded after
unidentified persons opened fire on their house, apparently targeting the
father. On 21 January, a Kosovo Albanian man and woman were killed when their
car was fired upon at an intersection outside Orahovac. The same day, the body
of a Kosovo Albanian doctor was found near the Pec-Mitrovica highway.
7. On 24 January, five Kosovo Albanians, two men, one woman and two boys, aged
11 and 12, were killed on the Rakovina-Jablanica road, while repairing their
tractor. According to international observers, some 60 spent cartridges were
found on the scene of the incident and the bodies revealed multiple bullet
8. On 25 January, a Kosovo Albanian was killed and his son severely wounded
near Decani when masked assailants fired a reported 55 rounds into their car.
On 26 January, a Serb man was severely wounded in an attack directed at his
house in the Istok municipality. The body of a 23-year-old Serb was found under
a driveway in the outskirts of Kosovska Mitrovica on 27 January; the body may
have been moved to that location after the victim was killed elsewhere.
9. On 29 January, Kosovo Albanian sources reported that the body of a Kosovo
Albanian was found in Bistrazin village and that another Albanian, close to the
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), was seriously wounded in front of his
apartment by two shots fired by unknown persons. On 30 January, a 36-year-old
Kosovo Albanian from Pec was found shot in the head on the Pec-Pristina road.
That same day, the body of another reputed "Kosovo Albanian loyalist", a physics
teacher from Djakovica, was found in the village of Gradis. In Istok
municipality, an elderly Serb was killed and his 72-year-old wife was injured
when unidentified persons threw a grenade into their house in the village of
10. On 31 January, the body of a Kosovo Albanian from the village of Begov
Vukovac was found, shot in the head, south of Istok. That same day, in Stimlje
municipality, masked gunmen reportedly broke into a house in the village of
Donje Godance and wounded one man and two boys.
11. Attacks and killings in urban areas continued during the first half of
February. On 4 February, bodies of three Kosovo Albanians were found in a car
between the villages of Istinic and Gornja Lika, in Decani municipality, and the
body of a Serb was found near the village of Rastavica. All had been shot. On
4 February, a Serb male was killed by automatic weapon fire while travelling on
the Pec-Djakovica highway.
12. On 7 February, bodies of two Kosovo Albanians reported missing since
3 January were found in Kacanik, south of Urosevac. During the night of
7-8 February, the body of an unidentified man aged about 30 was found in the
village of Livadja in Lipljan municipality. At this writing, UNHCHR is
attempting to clarify several reports of bodies found in or around Djakovica on
8 February. The bodies of two young persons, one a 17-year-old boy and one a
20-year-old woman, were reported found in two different locations in a Djakovica
suburb. The body of a Kosovo Albanian male, dead from gunshot wounds, was found
in his car in the Djakovica area, near the village of Trakanic. The same day,
again in Djakovica, bodies of a male and an elderly woman were also found. Both
victims, who are believed to be from the Roma community, died of gunshot wounds
to the neck. Bodies of two Kosovo Albanians from the village of Goden near
Djakovica were found on 10 February.
13. On 11 February, four more bodies were discovered in different areas of
Kosovo. According to media reports, the body of the Kosovo Albanian owner of an
Istok tea room was found on the Zac-Zablace road; he had been shot in the head.
Two men, one a Kosovo Albanian shot in the head, the other, as-yet-unidentified,
were found in separate locations in Novo Selo, near Pec. The body of an
unidentified male was found in a pond in Klina.
14. Targeted violence against civilians in Kosovo is taking new, even more
dangerous, forms. In particular, recently increased terrorist acts against Serb
and Albanian establishments in urban areas, including grenade attacks on cafes
and shops, are a cause of serious concern. Since the end of January, at least
10 such incidents in Pristina, Pec, Kosovska Mitrovica and Urosevac have been
reported. The investigation by UNHCHR indicated that in many cases these
establishments had been frequented by Serbs and Albanians and no incidents
between them had previously been reported. The latest attack, on 13 February in
the main town square in Urosevac, was particularly horrible: 12 people were
wounded and about 20 neighbouring shops and several cars parked nearby heavily
damaged. On 17 February, another explosive device planted at the Urosevac
market was discovered and deactivated by the Kosovo Verification Mission. The
result of these attacks is the growing alienation of the Serb and Albanian
communities, a pervasive feeling of insecurity and the shrinking of the
remaining ground for coexistence.
15. Following these grenade attacks and a number of killings in Pristina and in
the areas of Pec and Djakovica, UNHCHR field staff have expressed concern that,
particularly in these three urban areas, civilians known for open-mindedness and
flexibility in community relations, as well as professionals, intellectuals and
moderate community activists, have been targeted. Increasing pressure on the
urban elite in Pristina, Pec and Djakovica has also frequently been cited to
UNHCHR staff as a source of tension and apprehension in Prizren.
16. On 10 February 1999, the 40 remaining bodies of the Kosovo Albanian victims
of the Racak massacre were handed over to their families. A funeral was held in
Racak on 11 February. The release of the bodies had become a point of
contention between the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the
Kosovo Verification Mission. As of 1 February, the team of Finnish forensic
experts had completed or monitored autopsies on 24 of the 40 bodies brought from
the Racak mosque to Pristina. Sixteen bodies had been autopsied by Serbian
forensic specialists before the arrival of the Finnish team. Five bodies of the
total of 45 dead at Racak were reportedly removed from the village by families
and were not autopsied. The Finnish team stressed, during its two-week stay in
the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that it was not carrying out an
investigation into the events at Racak, but an examination of the bodies moved
from the place of death to the mosque in Racak and then to the Pristina morgue.
After the events at Racak, the scene was not isolated; the circumstances of
evidence-gathering and the chain of custody of evidence remain unclear. The
Finnish team indicated that it would release the results of its examination in
Racak to the European Union and to the Pristina district court in early March.
There is no indication at this time of action by the authorities of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators of the Racak massacre to
Abductions and taking of hostages
17. During this period, no new information emerged or was volunteered on the
whereabouts and fate of persons abducted or reported missing. Eleven persons
were abducted, 10 Serbs, among whom five were released and one escaped, and one
Kosovo Albanian, who was found dead. On 21 January, five Serb civilians (three
men and two women) were abducted in the village of Nevoljane, Vucitrn
municipality, and released on 23 January through mediation by the Kosovo
Verification Mission. The KLA spokesman in Pristina stated that the five were
not kidnapped. Instead, he claimed that "stopping, disarming and the arrest of
the five members of the Serb nationality ... were performed in accordance with
the international conventions and norms, and for the reason of public security
and order in that village".
18. During the night of 8-9 February, one Serb civilian went missing near
Kosovska Mitrovica. The following night, two Serb civilians were abducted near
Novo Selo on the Pristina-Vucitrn road. One managed to escape and reported that
he was kidnapped by persons wearing KLA uniforms and insignia. On 10 February,
the body of a Kosovo Albanian from Urosevac, who had been kidnapped the day
before, was discovered. On 11 February, Serbian sources reported that two
plainclothes police officers were abducted the night before, after having last
been seen off-duty in Kosovo Polje, outside Pristina.
Detention and trials
19. Reports of arbitrary detention and systematic ill-treatment of Kosovo
Albanians in police detention and under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of
Justice continue to emerge from UNHCHR field interviews and during court
testimony. According to information released by Serbian Public Prosecutor,
Dragica Krsmanovic, 2,007 persons in Kosovo have been charged with criminal
offences of terrorism, endangering the territorial integrity of the country and
seditious activity. Of those, 1,060 are currently in detention and 824 are
under indictment. As earlier reported, the number of Kosovo Albanians detained,
questioned, subjected to "informative talks" or arrested and subsequently
released by police is not known.
20. On 16 January it was reported that Halit Aliaj, aged 48, who was arrested
the day before, died while in police custody in the Djakovica police station.
UNHCHR is making further inquiry into this case. Three other persons are known
by UNHCHR to have died in 1998 while in police custody in Djakovica.
21. UNHCHR staff continue to monitor proceedings in which Kosovo Albanian
defendants are accused of alleged terrorist or anti-state activity. The number
of persons already sentenced in courts of first instance is relatively small.
Most proceedings are still pending. Regardless of the size of the group of
defendants or the number of witnesses to be called, most proceedings monitored
by the Office have been discontinued after a hearing lasting only one working
day or less, and subsequent hearings in the same case are frequently postponed
for only a few days short of the maximum postponement allowed by law. As a
result, defendants remain in detention indefinitely. On 8 February, proceedings
against 24 "Orahovac group" defendants were once again postponed until 10 March.
The group was arrested on or about 21 July 1998 and has been in detention, under
systematic abuse, at Lipljan prison ever since. The hearing on 8 February was
the first time any of the accused gave court testimony after more than six
months' detention and after repeated postponements.
22. During this reporting period, sentences were handed over on 5 February in
the "Urosevac group" case. Of the 28-member Urosevac group, 11 were arrested in
June 1998; two of those defendants died while in police custody, allegedly as a
result of torture. The nine remaining defendants were first brought before the
Pristina district court in late December and mid-January. Seventeen defendants
were tried in absentia. All nine standing trial claimed they had been tortured
and still had visible traces of injuries allegedly inflicted by police and state
security officials, including after their arraignment before an investigative
judge. The defendants, including those tried in absentia, were sentenced to
periods ranging from two and a half to 15 years.
23. On 10 February, the district court of Prizren sentenced eight men from
Orahovac municipality to five years' imprisonment on charges of terrorism. The
accused had all been charged with membership in the "so-called 'KLA'".
Individual charges included providing medicine, food and fuel to KLA, possession
of weapons, carrying out patrols and opening fire on patrols of the Ministry of
the Interior. The decision of the court relied on confessions of the accused
made before the investigating judge and photocopies of alleged lists of KLA
membership. No originals of these documents were submitted by the prosecution
as evidence. In earlier proceedings, defendants had maintained that their
statements were made under coercion and torture, allegations not examined by the
court. In explaining why the court did not consider these allegations, the
presiding judge, on pronouncing his sentence, stated that the court would have
considered these allegations seriously were it not for the fact that some of the
accused had admitted they were KLA members. The court's final judgement did not
indicate which acts had been proved to have been committed by each individual
accused. The presiding judge did indicate in his explanation of his judgement
that the strategy of defence attorneys had compelled him to issue heavy
24. To keep count of the numbers of displaced is difficult, but the Office of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in consultation with
non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, believes the number inside Kosovo
stands at some 211,000, while there are an estimated 25,000 displaced in
Montenegro. To assess the numbers of returns is even more difficult, given the
long-term displacement of some, the short-term and sometimes repeated
displacement, combined with return, of others. Therefore, UNHCR believes that
it is more appropriate at this stage to address the humanitarian needs of the
war-affected, including displaced, returnees, host families and those who never
moved but lost their property and means of livelihood. The United Nations
humanitarian agencies and NGOs are together providing relief assistance to some
420,000 persons in Kosovo and Montenegro.
25. A resumption of hostilities in Kosovo in January and February resulted in
new displacement of population. Clashes between Kosovo Albanian paramilitary
units and Serbian forces in the Podujevo area have prevented the return of some
15,000 displaced from about 17 villages. Serb and Albanian homes along the main
Pristina-Podujevo road remain deserted, as intermittent fighting occurs some
3 kilometres to the west. This area has witnessed a pattern of displacement,
return and fresh displacement. In Drenica, Suva Reka, Stimlje, Prizren and
Vucitrn similar clashes also led to a new displacement of population. In some
cases return took place, at least of some of the displaced, as soon as the
violence passed; in other places, where the presence of Serbian security forces
or Kosovo Albanian paramilitary units continued, fear prevented early return.
26. February was also marked by the continuing departure of the Serbian
population from towns and villages where they had been in the minority, or where
clashes between Kosovo Albanian paramilitary units and security forces occurred.
According to information provided by the Serbian Commissioner for Refugees, some
90 villages in central and western Kosovo have lost their entire Serbian
population in recent months, while towns like Podujevo and Kosovska Mitrovica
have seen a reduction of the Serbian population. The estimated number of
displaced Serbs within Kosovo is 10,000 while 30,000 more have moved to other
parts of Serbia. In contrast, Kosovo Albanians who have lost or never had
identity documents are afraid to move from their villages for fear of harassment
by the security forces. UNHCR is seeking to prevent further displacement and to
facilitate visits of persons without documentation to the appropriate police
stations in order to secure identity documents.
27. Throughout the reporting period, some returns have continued to take place,
especially where the OSCE/Kosovo Verification Mission has established a
continuing presence. In Slapuzane, south of Pristina, for example, 1,200
formerly displaced persons have returned. In Malisevo more than half of the
former 3,000 residents are back in their village, while in Junik, more than
1,500 of the inhabitants are back in their homes. Following the burial, on
13 February, of 40 of those killed at Racak, the OSCE/Kosovo Verification
Mission established a continuing presence there and some villagers have since
returned. In Lodja, a village on the outskirts of Pec that was almost totally
destroyed last summer, UNHCR and NGOs are assisting a group of about 16 families
in repairing the largely undamaged school building. These families are now
living in the school while undertaking the major task of rebuilding their homes.
28. Delivery of humanitarian assistance has continued almost uninterrupted
throughout the month of February, despite the violence and severe weather.
UNHCR has coordinated and led three multi-agency convoys six days per week,
bringing systematic assistance to the displaced, the returned and to the war-affected population. Some relief assistance by NGOs working outside the
escorted convoy system has been disrupted. There were reports of confiscation
by the Serbian security forces of local trucks contracted by an NGO and of
relief items belonging to another. Moreover, cases of harassment of relief NGOs
were also reported. Some NGOs have been repeatedly visited by the regular and
the financial police and questioned about their activities, others reported
aggressive behaviour by KLA members.
29. UNHCR and UNICEF worked with 14 NGOs from November 1998 to February 1999 to
undertake a shelter survey covering 654 villages in 19 municipalities affected
by the conflict in Kosovo, 440 villages were directly affected by the conflict,
with damage ranging from slight to complete destruction. These villages had a
total of 66,686 family houses before the conflict. Half of these houses have
differing degrees of damage and 22,239 houses require major reconstruction. The
resulting Shelter Report catalogues the extent of damage, village by village,
for each of the 19 municipalities surveyed, and will prove an important document
in the planning of priorities for repair and reconstruction.
30. UNICEF, in cooperation with five international NGOs, has conducted a school
damage assessment survey in 13 municipalities. The survey indicated that out of
900 schools, 163 have been destroyed or seriously damaged, while the remaining
have minor damages or have been looted.
31. UNHCR and its United Nations and NGOs partners will continue their efforts,
in these risky conditions, to protect and assist the large number of refugees
and displaced persons, and to support the population affected by the 12 months
of conflict in Kosovo. There is strong apprehension, however, that violence
against civilians and clashes between Serbian security forces and Kosovo
Albanian paramilitary units will continue, with the resultant displacement of
the civilian population. Cooperation between UNHCR and the Kosovo Verification
Mission will remain crucial in monitoring developments and reacting rapidly in
order to meet the needs of the displaced and their host communities. UNHCR and
its partners have updated contingency and preparedness plans, but it is clear
that any break in the continuity of humanitarian action would create further
32. I share the strong concerns of the UNHCHR about the spread of violence
against civilians in Kosovo. Beyond the unacceptable actions of the Serbian
security forces, the recent dangerous terrorist bombings are causing a growing
number of victims. Terror tactics by Government forces, ethnically motivated
violence, arbitrary treatment, targeted killings, abductions and bomb attacks
must be halted by those responsible.
33. It is obvious that the humanitarian problems in Kosovo are a consequence of
the armed conflict and the political crisis and they are difficult to separate
from security issues. I am increasingly alarmed that continued confrontation in
Kosovo, including persistent breaches of the ceasefire, has led to a substantial
aggravation of the situation. According to OSCE, the current security
environment in Kosovo is characterized by disproportionate use of force,
including mortar and tank fire, by the Yugoslav authorities in response to
persistent attacks and provocations by the Kosovo Albanian paramilitaries. As
tensions mount in Kosovo, the number of Yugoslav troops deployed in the field
exceeds the agreed level by a factor of five. Kosovo Albanian paramilitary
units are consolidating their presence throughout Kosovo, including areas they
did not control before. As a result, fighting now affects areas previously
untouched by hostilities, leading to further deterioration of the situation and
new displacements of civilian population.
34. Further fighting has rendered the October 1998 ceasefire agreement almost
meaningless. I urge both parties to halt military activities in Kosovo, to
comply fully with relevant Security Council resolutions and honour their
commitments under the October 1998 agreements. In particular, the Yugoslav
authorities should immediately reduce the number of troops deployed in the field
to the level established in October 1998 and Kosovo Albanian paramilitary units
should refrain from any provocative actions.
35. I strongly support efforts by the Contact Group to provide a political
framework for a settlement of the crisis. I encourage the parties to seize this
opportunity to achieve peace and autonomy for the people of Kosovo by
negotiation, while respecting the national sovereignty and territorial integrity
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.