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World - Europe

U.N. human rights commissioner worried about Kosovo

Robinson visited Kosovo to examine the plight of ethnic Albanians and minorities

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July 1, 1999
Web posted at: 5:44 a.m. EDT (0944 GMT)

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson called on the international community Wednesday to "use all its energies and commitment" to make Yugoslavia's war-ravaged Kosovo province safe for its returning ethnic Albanian refugees and its minority populations.

"I think this is the most worrying time because people are tentative about their situation and there is a pressure on the Serb minority and the Roma (Gypsy) population," the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She commented after touring the region and speaking with people directly affected by what she called a "difficult and complex situation."

"I'm more worried now than I was before I came here," Robinson said.

Robinson came for a firsthand look at Kosovo, hard-hit by a NATO bombing campaign that forced Yugoslav forces to retreat into other parts of Serbia and end what NATO said was their systematic attempts to rid the province of its majority ethnic Albanian population.

But, since the departure of the Yugoslav soldiers and the deployment of NATO forces, Robinson has received increasing reports of retaliations against the Serbs and Roma Gypsies, accused by the ethnic Albanians of looting their homes after they fled the province.

Robinson said she met with KFOR commander Lt. Gen. Michael Jackson, who told her his forces needed more police support in order to ensure the safety of all of Kosovo's people. That, the commissioner said, was an "urgent problem" that she would "bring back with me to Geneva" for a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Almost simultaneously with Robinson's remarks, Annan addressed a meeting of 18 "Friends of Kosovo" nations, calling for more police and quicker deployment of NATO troops in the province.

"Let this joint effort -- the international community providing a helping hand under the legitimacy of a Security Council mandate and in pursuit of fundamental human rights -- be the legacy that we take forward into the next century," he told foreign ministers and other representatives of the participating countries at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Annan asked nations who had offered personnel for the U.N. civilian police force to move quickly to provide them.

The U.N.'s refugee agency, UNHCR, said Wednesday that nearly half of the estimated 860,000 ethnic Albanians who fled Kosovo had returned since the June 12 end of NATO's bombing campaign. More than 70,000 Serbs have left the province since the Yugoslav army began withdrawing on June 10.

Meanwhile, bodies have turned up in an apparent mass grave. KFOR officials on Thursday said that at least 119 bodies have been discovered by German troops in Celine, a village nine miles northwest of Prizren. The number could go as high as 150 bodies. The ethnic identity of the victims was not immediately known.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from

  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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