Doc. 8675

22 March 2000

Action plan for the children of Kosovo

Report

Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Mrs Elena Poptodorova, Bulgaria, Socialist Group

Summary

      This report is based on the findings resulting from visits by the rapporteur to the refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia in early June 1999, just prior to the signing of the peace agreement, and a visit to Kosovo, Montenegro and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the last week of August 1999.

      It describes the situation of the refugee children in the refugee camps, with all the consequences of the forced exodus from their homes and the deprivations in the camps. The rapporteur is concerned that even after the return of the refugee children after the signing of the peace agreement, many of their problems still persist. They are related to the over-all precariousness of the situation in Kosovo and with the general security vacuum which, regrettably, did occur in spite of all warnings and previously voiced apprehensions.

      The plight of internally displaced children in Montenegro and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is equally alarming. Roma and Serb children represent another set of problems related to the uneven treatment of different ethnic groups by international donors. Serb authorities, on the other hand, seem to be treating internally displaced persons (IDPs) as second-grade citizens, which adds to the gravity of the situation of children in the area. Sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are yet another complication which has its direct bearing on the living conditions of children.

      The rapporteur insists that humanitarian assistance be granted, in accordance with the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights, equally to all nationalities or ethnic groups and invites member states to reconsider the regime of sanctions imposed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

      The rapporteur calls on member states and the respective Council of Europe bodies to become more engaged, together with UNICEF and the Bank for Development of the Council of Europe in specific programmes targeted to children in the area.

I.       Draft recommendation

1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Recommendations 1376 (1998), 1397 (1999), 1400 (1999), 1403 (1999) on the crisis in Kosovo and the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and to its Recommendations 1385 (1998) and 1404 (1999) on the situation of Kosovo.

2. The Assembly states that the plight of children in war or in armed conflict is of priority concern and needs emergency action on the part of all member states, in co-operation with the Council of Europe and other relevant international organisations, such as UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others.

3. The Assembly warns that prompt and efficient measures need to be taken to avoid the social exclusion of children of war, not least because socially excluded children as a rule become socially excluded adults.

4. The Assembly reiterates that all the children in the area are in an equal need of protection and assistance, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity.

5. The complicated ethnic situation in Kosovo and also in Montenegro gives rise to serious ethnic tensions, which are especially serious in Kosovo. They have a most adverse effect on children. Serb and Roma children in Kosovo run a life risk, which is a matter of most serious concern.

6. The Assembly notes with concern that humanitarian assistance has been provided unevenly and unfairly with regard to the needs of the different ethnic groups.

7. While supporting the pressure on the Yugoslav authorities to meet Council of Europe standards, the Assembly believes that modalities of humanitarian assistance should be reconsidered and reorganised in view of the current conditions.

8. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       urge the member states of the Council of Europe:

      a. to review the system of economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the humanitarian assistance so as the secure the physical well-being of children in the winter period;

      b. to apply an even-handed approach in providing humanitarian aid, as well as to have special aid programmes for children;

      c. to contribute to health and education programmes at all levels;

ii.       urge UNICEF, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), UNHCR and ICRC:

      a. to make sure that all security measures are taken to protect the life of children in mined areas or against any acts of retribution; to take special protection measures for Roma and Serb children in the area;

      b. to make sure that children have decent housing and heating in the winter conditions;

      c. to guarantee full and equal access to health services for children of all ethnic groups; to carry out and monitor full-scale vaccination of children;

      d. to speed up the reconstruction of destroyed or damaged school facilities;

      e. to provide access to educational and recreational programmes and facilities by implementing after-school programmes and developing a network of pre-school programmes;

      f. to provide transportation to school in order to ease school access and stimulate education;

      g. to provide access to health and safety information and health care facilities, which include:

      h. to organise better pre-school and primary education; to provide teaching material and train teachers who will teach ethnic tolerance, peace values and democratic standards to pupils.

9.       Finally, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers transmit the present recommendation to all the organisations concerned.

II.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur

1.       The Rapporteur, Mrs Poptodorova, visited Albania and "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in June 1999, just prior to the peace agreements. This visit was followed by another one to Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia in the last week of August 1999 (see programmes of visits in Appendix I).

2.       Most of the findings described below as regards Albania and "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" apply to the situation as it was before the return of the refugees. Repatriation created new problems which are also analysed in the report.

3.       By mid-July, 600,000 refugees have already returned to Kosovo. It should be noted however that, at the height of the crisis, the situations differed between the two countries. "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" initially anticipated some 20,000 refugees and 86,000 arrived. The country's lack of experience in this field gave rise to numerous misunderstandings which were blown up by the press, giving the country a bad image. By June, there were 276,000 refugees divided between 9 camps (the largest being Cegrane) and reception centres. Most of the refugees were children, women or elderly people; half were under 18 years of age. The Serb and Croat refugees were mainly if not exclusively lodged with host families. The country was under considerable pressure owing to an 11% increase in its Albanian population and fears that its ethnic make-up would be changed. For a more telling comparison, one would have to imagine a sudden influx of 26 million people into the United States.

4.       In June Albania was hosting 470,000 refugees according to the emergency relief co-ordinators; 40% were children. 150 collective centres and 50 refugee camps were operational in June 1999. At 29 May 1999 the number of refugees taken in by Albanian host families was estimated at 276,468, attesting to the country's solidarity with the Kosovars. This solidarity was made a national cause in Albania's media. Indeed, it was a Kosovar who was crowned Miss Albania 1999.

5.       Both countries were taken by surprise by the flow of refugees and, fortunately, both enjoyed relative political stability, due in fact to a state of emergency. But, in the opinion of those we spoke to, that stability could not last and it was indispensable to enable refugees to return as quickly as possible. While, according to some, the refugees were something of a godsend to Albania, the economic development of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" was halted; the crisis caused economic losses either directly, through the ceasing of trade with Serbia (20% before the crisis), or indirectly, through the drying up of tourism, cancellation of flights etc.

6.       A humanitarian aid co-ordination structure was established in both countries in order to centralise needs, direct relief as best possible and maximise intervention, as well as avoid duplication. Regular meetings were held between the government authorities and the international organisations and other partners on the ground.

7.       Living conditions in the camps (see the description of visits to camps in Tirana and Cegrane in Appendix II) differed slightly from country to country. They were far more precarious in Albania but deteriorated in both countries with the arrival of summer and the hot weather. The coming of winter was a source of anxiety. The overall priorities were to cope with over-population in the camps and to improve the accommodation and hygiene conditions in a context of water and food shortages. There did not seem to be a significant public order problem, a fact due in particular to the patriarchal structure of the communities.

8.       One other overlooked but worrying problem was relief for host families. As they were outside the humanitarian relief circuit, many received no aid, particularly as regards food. The Albanian government, with help notably from Italy, was trying to devise relief programmes for these families so that they would keep the refugees in their homes and not send them to the camps.

9.       As far as the priority needs of children were concerned, the rapporteur's discussions highlighted three requirements: food, schooling and help for problems linked to the stress and trauma they had suffered.

10.       In terms of food, the international organisations have minimum norms and it is on this basis that they provide basic foodstuffs such as sugar, flour, oil and beans. All those we spoke to described these rations as inadequate, particularly as far as the children were concerned. This was highly apparent from the very scrawny children in Albania. The refugees in that country were entitled to two kilos of supplementary food a month, including milk for the children, for example. The Albanian authorities complained of being unable to improve on these rations and of the very burdensome task of distributing them.

11.       While the NGOs were praised for their work, some of those we spoke to, particularly in Albania, accused them of growing rich at the expense of the people, of providing poor-quality food and of not taking the refugees' eating habits into account. In Albania and Macedonia they were reproached above all for not buying from local producers and directly importing products from abroad. For this reason, in June, Albania organised an exhibition of its national food produce, to which all the NGOs and international organisations were invited in order to raise their awareness of the issue.

12.       The schooling of children was consistently raised as one of the major problems and the top priority for the children in camps, since schooling represented a return to normal life. The children received schooling either in the camps, thanks to Kosovar teachers, or in normal schools.

13.       In Albania, schooling had just been introduced in June. The country's authorities seemed somewhat reluctant to use Kosovar teachers, preferring to mobilise Albanian teachers who volunteered to spend two months of their summer vacation teaching refugees. Albanian students were asked to donate their books. At the initiative of UNICEF, "child-friendly spaces" were set up, with the agreement of the Albanian government, in most camps.

14.       Schooling initiatives had also just begun in Macedonia and the authorities anticipated a total of 35,000 pupils. The Education Ministry said that it was not able to pay the teachers. Responsibility for the curriculum and the textbooks lay with the Ministry. Beyond the eighth school year education is no longer compulsory and the curricula are specific to Kosovo. However, the authorities said that they were doing their utmost to introduce it. They had come to an agreement with UNICEF, which had arranged teaching for the first eight school years according to the Kosovar system and activities for children of pre-school age in all the existing camps. A number of municipal schools had been converted by the organisation, which, it would appear, had encountered some resistance from the Macedonian authorities as regards curriculum content, particularly for music. The Macedonian authorities had some reservations about the textbooks published by the Soros Foundation. The Macedonian Red Cross was sending refugee children for 10-day stays at three holiday camps located on the edge of Lake Ohrid and equipped by the German Red Cross, where the activities included psychotherapy sessions.

15.       As for the state of health of the refugees and children in particular, there were no serious pathologies or epidemics in either country. The most widespread illnesses were gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders and skin and scalp conditions. Mortality levels were normal.

16.       In "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" all the children had been vaccinated and immunised against the main illnesses (polio, diphtheria, tetanos, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, tuberculosis etc) and, thanks to UNICEF, programmes had been set up to identify and care for children suffering from stress and psychological problems. Daily bulletins on the health situation in the camps were issued in both countries.

17.       In Macedonia, both the number and quality of health services provided varied from camp to camp. The situation was difficult in the Stancovic and Cegrane camps, which were too large, with refugees having to queue. Medical care was free of charge for refugees, and unemployed doctors had been specially recruited to cater for their needs. Refugees had priority. The Health Ministry welcomed the strong co-operation between local and foreign medical teams, which proved beneficial for both sides.

18.       The Macedonian authorities expressed fears over their country being turned into a dumping ground for expired and useless medicines, while certain necessary medicines and indispensable apparatus were in short supply. The hospital to which refugees were referred was Tetovo hospital, which, at the time of the rapporteur's visit, had 19 sick children, 46 patients with pulmonary disorders or tuberculosis, 32 patients in gynaecology and 27 in surgery.

19.       The high number of premature births and miscarriages were due to the trauma suffered by the women, and the number of incubators (three!) was inadequate. Thirty or so patients were under dialysis in Struga and there were not enough machines. Despite specifically requesting machines, the authorities had received just one.

20.       Major efforts were under way to register refugees in order to restore the identities of those whose papers had been destroyed and facilitate their imminent return. In Albania a project was being run in conjunction with Microsoft and was due to start up in Kukes in mid-June. Temporary cards, valid for two years, were issued by the government.

21.       Reaction to a possible return was the same everywhere, both in Albania and in "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia": the Kosovars were very keen to return home as soon as possible and would content themselves with a tent in their garden as long as the Serbs had gone. They saw the presence of NATO as a guarantee for return but refused the presence of the Russians. Any return would require a minimum level of security and would initially involve only heads of household.

22.       The HCR stressed that there was strong pressure from the international community for refugees to return. Making Kosovo safe was vitally important, and this meant clearing mines, providing water supplies and accommodation and organising a mass awareness campaign to warn people of the risks entailed, so that hurried returns with all the dangers inherent in the heat, state of the roads and so on were avoided.

23.       UNICEF had already published a number of posters and brochures warning against mines, aimed at children in particular.

24.       Despite peace and the possibilities of return, a number of refugees would remain where they were, without doubt for a lengthy period. It was pointed out that in the case of Bosnia, only 20% of the refugees had returned. Despite returns home, the humanitarian relief effort had to continue in the camps in Albania and "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", together with aid for host families, many of whom had taken in Serbs. Relief efforts had to be resumed in Kosovo too, where, already before the war, 20,000 individuals had been receiving food aid.

25.       The climates of the two countries were such that, by as early as June, all the people we spoke to were concerned by the imminent onset of winter and, therefore, the upgrading of refugee accommodation for that period, known as "winterisation". This required the conversion of public buildings, improved food supplies and sanitary facilities, as well as the installation of heating. Those in the camps should be accommodated in prefabricated shelters rather than tents. Host families should not be forgotten; they require financial and material assistance, such as blankets.

26.       The departure of Milosevic was emphasised by all as a sine qua non condition for peace. He could not be allowed to participate in negotiations; otherwise, the conflict would become permanent and even more costly.

27.       For the Albanians, the programme of assistance and repatriation must be global in order to guarantee its stability and, thereby, achieve political stability. Once the refugees have gone, the risk of political instability may re-emerge and failure to provide assistance could prove even more costly to western countries. The international community has to help the country back on its feet: some infrastructures have been deteriorated by refugees and soldiers.

28.       The transition of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and the beginnings of economic development have been halted. The authorities now expect far greater efforts on the part of the international community, particularly financially. Support has to be provided for the Pact on Stability and reconstruction must be political and economic and guarantee security. This is very important for the Balkans, which are part and parcel of Europe; otherwise the same crisis will repeat itself in a few years' time.

29.       With the signing of the peace agreement in mid-June a mass return of refugees followed. Since 15 June 1999 until the end of August 761 000 Kosovars returned to Kosovo - 715 000 from the region and 46.500 from Europe, North America and Oceania. A total of 45 200 still remain in the area - 7 000 in Albania, 19 000 in Macedonia, 8 000 in Montenegro and 11 400 in Bosnia.

30.       In the meantime a reverse trend followed - around 180 000 Serbs and Roma left Kosovo in massive flights for Serbia and Montenegro. No more than 30 000 altogether remained in the region added to the already displaced 500 000 from Croatia and Bosnia, there are now around 770 000 IDPs only in Serbia and Montenegro. The problem of IDPs from Kosovo is likely to become a permanent problem because unlike Kosovar Albanian refugees who returned en masse, Serb IDPs are not likely to go back in the foreseeable future, if at all. Children are particularly affected because they have abandoned the natural environment and their homes without getting new ones in place. They also have the problem of schooling and specially the problem of no predictable prospects for their future. They will always come after the children of the local population (mostly Serbs) which treat them as second-grade citizens.

31.       Security is the main problem in Kosovo now. The fears were justified: security and political vacuum did occur. There are practically no institutions, no administration, no civil police, no border controls. There is a growing wave of violence with a reverted target - Serbs and Roma. There is an all-out victimisation of Serbs which does not distinguish between children and adults.

32.       Returnees to Kosovo found around 77 000 houses completely destroyed and 120 000 damaged. Only less than 25% of the houses were undamaged. As a consequence, shelter and winterisation in Kosovo represent an immediate and serious problem.

33.       Under these circumstances, children in Kosovo are faced with two imminent problems - physical security and shelter.

a.       Land-mines and cluster bombs are a direct threat. Some 30% of the cluster bombs thrown in the area have not exploded. De-mining is still slow and limited. There are very few de-miners on the ground. Many schools and the surrounding area have not been mine-checked.

b.       Winterisation will be extremely difficult for children. There will be provided only temporary shelter kits for the winter, since the reconstruction and repair programme cannot start on a full scale before next spring. The plastic tents will demand extra heating, especially for children.

34.       Only 17% of the schools have not sustained damage. 43% of 394 schools in 16 municipalities have been completely destroyed or severely damaged, while 20-24% of the schools have suffered moderate damage. There is a school-repair programme but it will not be started before the coming spring.

35.       For more than a decade now there has been no investment made in schools, which mostly lack running water and sanitation. 80% of the schools have outdoor latrines, with only 4% of them described as good. 73% of the schools have no sewer system.

36.       The health status of children is generally good. Immunisation was re-started. In September and October there was an outreach system to rural areas. Polio eradication is an important policy. For this a campaign which can be started in the spring is necessary. However, Albanian-run hospitals refuse to treat Serbs. More health services are needed in the Serb enclaves.

37.       Primary education (7-14 years) seems to be receiving adequate assistance, mostly form international organisations such as UNICEF, but secondary education is neglected. University education gets more attention (but not assistance) since it is a politically volatile problem.

38.       A large number of children drop-out of school in the rural areas, especially girls. 60% of the girls do not go to school.

39.       School enrolment is also very important from the point of view of registration. This is the only civil registration Kosovo children can have at this point.

40.       With Serbian and Roma children access is the problem. These children simply cannot be protected and they should therefore attend school in separate shifts from the Albanian children. Regrettable as it is, access is more important than multiethnic classes.

41.       There is a high level of aggressiveness and animosity among children of different ethnicities, which demands special attention and action on the part of the Council of Europe, UNICEF, WHO and other relevant organisations.

42.       Roma children are a special category. They do not perform well at school even under the best conditions, in particular because, as a rule, they do not get any encouragement from their parents. They used to attend Serbian curriculum schools but the parallel education system is not likely to last for long.

43.       Because of the good tracing system of UNHCR and of the clan tradition there are practically no abandoned or street children.

44.       Domestic violence has grown. Children suffer violence from both their parents.

45.       A Council of Europe/UNICEF project for psycho-social treatment of children is now under way.

46. The situation of internally displaced children should also be taken into consideration. There are a few in Montenegro and tens of thousands in Serbia (the total number of IDPs and refugees in Serbia is 700 000). They have permanent housing or schooling there. Most of them are also unwilling to go to school because they see no prospects for themselves. The big difference they make is that, unlike refugee children who returned, they are likely to stay a long time if not forever because they have nowhere else to go.

APPENDIX I

Programme of the visit to Albania on 8 and 9 June 1999

I.       Tuesday 8 June

5 am       Arrival at Tirana airport

6.30 am       Visit to the "Sports complex" reception centre and the "Swimming pool" refugee camp (Director: Mr Bujar)

II.       Wednesday 9 June

9 am       Briefing by Mrs Akant at the Council of Europe office

11 am       Meeting with Mr Laurenti, representative of UNICEF

12 noon       Meeting with Mr Dokle, Chairman of the Albanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly

3 pm       Meeting with Mr Boscardi, representative of the UNHCR

5 pm       Meeting with Mr Katriot Islami, head of the crisis management group

7 pm       End of programme

III.       Thursday 10 June

9 am       Departure for Qafa es Thanës

Programme of the visit to "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" on 10 and 11 June 1999

IV.       Thursday 10 June

3 pm       Arrival at the Kafasan border-crossing point

      Welcomed by Mr Nikola Todorovski, secretary of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" delegation

3.30 pm       Departure for Skopje

      Visit to the Cegrane refugee camp

7 pm       Meeting with the HCR representative in charge of the camp, Mr Cesar Pastor Ortega

V.       Friday 11 June

9 am       Meeting with Mr Stefan Nikolovski, Foreign Affairs Minister, Humanitarian relief co-ordination representative

10 am       Meeting with Mr Cvetanoski, President of the Macedonian Red Cross, and Mr Harper of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

11 am       Meeting with Mr Georgi Ilievski, Government representative for the education of refugee children

12 noon       Talks with Mr Nexhipi, Deputy Health Minister

1 pm       Meeting with Mrs Gulistana Markovska, member of the parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe

3 pm       Talks with Mr Loughney, representative of UNICEF

4 pm       Council of Europe information and documentation centre, Skopje University law faculty

      Meeting with various NGOs, including the League of Albanian women of Macedonia, the Children's Embassy, the Rom Centre of Skopje etc.

Visit of a delegation to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

(22–28 August 1999)

PROGRAMME

Sunday, 22 August 1999

Priština, after transfer from Ciampino Airport with WFP flight

Briefings by:

Ms Helen Ramos, Head of Office, UNHCR Field Office Priština

Ms Maggie Nicholson, Senior External Relations Officer, UNHCR Kosovo

Mr Fredrick Holm, Council of Europe, Directorate of Political Affairs

Mr Jo Hegenauer, Deputy Head of Office, UNHCR Kosovo

Mr Tony Welch, Head of Office, Department of International Development (UK)

Ms Betsy Greve, Acting Head of Protection Unit, UNHCR Kosovo

Meetings with:

General Sir Michael Jackson, COMKFOR

Major General Ridgeway, Chief of Staff, KFOR at Film City, Dragodan, Priština

Mr Ibrahim Rugova, at his residence, Priština

Monday, 23 August 1999

Priština – Prizren – Mitrovica - Gracanica

Briefings by:

Mr Ulrich Bohner, Head of the Council of Europe office and Special Envoy of the

Secretary General

Meetings with:

Field visits to:

Gracanica: Meeting with Bishop Artemije in the Orthodox Monastery

Tuesday, 24 August 1999

Pristina – Pec – Rozaje – Berane

Briefings by:

Mr Francis Teoh, Repatriation Co-ordinator, UNHCR Kosovo

Ms Betsy Greve, Acting Head of Protection Unit, UNHCR Kosovo

Field visits to:

Priština:Bus station and airport – arrival of returnees

Wednesday, 25 August 1999

Berane – Andrijevica – Kolasin - Podgorica

Round Table with NGOs based in the North of Montenegro:

Mrs Daniyela Miloanic, Mr Bojovic Radule, Danish Refugee Council

Mr Phil Attwell, World Vision

Mrs Stephanie Hanouët, Mr Dennis Cornell, Action contre la Faim

Mrs Eleke Nagel, CRS, Caritas The Netherlands

Mrs Lidija Cukic, Help from Germany

Mr Massimo Bucci, Mrs Sara Piscicelli, InterSOS, Italia

Mrs Stéphane de Ricaud, Première Urgence

Field visits to:

Briefings by:

Mrs Annika Norlin, Head of Sub-Delegation ICRC

Mr Håkan Falkell, Emergency Co-ordinator, World Food Programme

Mrs Gizela Dajkovic, Coordinator of CPLRE initiative in Montenegro

Mr Gianluca Ferrera, Programme Officer, World Food Programme

Mr Philip Attwell, Relief Manager, World Vision

Thursday, 26 August 1999

Podgorica – Tivat airport, flight to Belgrade

Round Table with NGOs:

Mr Marc Nosbach, Save the Children/US

Mrs Isladana Pejovic, Forum Zena Crne Gore

Mrs Asier Santillan, M.P.D.L.

Mrs Alexandra Vujovic, Mrs Ivanka Brajovic, HELP

Mrs Sanja Ivanovic, SAH

Mr Thomas Verges, Pharmaciens sans Frontières

Meetings with:

Mr Dragiša Burzan, Deputy Prime Minister - Government building

Briefings by:

Ms Marion Hoffmann, Acting Deputy Representative, UNHCR Belgrade

Mr Andrei Kazakov, Acting Head Field Office Belgrade, UNHCR

Friday, 27 August 1999

Belgrade - Pancevo

Briefings by:

Meetings with:

Field visits to:

Saturday, 28 August 1999

Belgrade – Rachan - Kragujevac - Kraljevo

Field visits to:

Field visits accompanied by:

Meetings:

APPENDIX II

1.       Visit to the "Swimming pool" camp in Tirana on 8 June 1999

The "Swimming pool" camp, one of Albania's best refugee camps, accommodated 6,100 people, 2,700 of whom lived in more comfortable prefabricated shelters, allocated to large families. It was set up by the Albanian civil defence authorities and the Greek government. It was Albania's largest camp after Kukes.

The camp at the sports complex served as a reception centre (2,000 refugees) and other refugees were living on three campsites around Tirana. Six others existed in the Tirana district.

Living conditions were very poor in the beginning and have improved slightly since, but the situation is not helped by the very strong summer heat and also the presence of snakes.

Initially, there were only 4,000 refugees but very quickly, as families were reunited, their number increased, causing a deterioration in living conditions. In theory, there were 8 to 10 people per tent, each of which measures between 4 and 6 square metres, but it was not uncommon for them to house 12 or 15 individuals. Families were not separated.

47% of the refugees were children aged under 16. On the day of the rapporteur's visit it was the first day of school, thanks to the joint efforts of Albania, UNICEF and the Soros Foundation, which provided equipment for nursery facilities, books etc. Schooling followed the Kosovar system.

Food was supplied by the HCR and certain NGOs, particularly from the Netherlands; the daily rations were inadequate in terms of both quantity and quality. There had been no fresh meat for two and a half months. One Dutch NGO handed out hot dogs, which the Kosovars did not eat; they did not like them and feared that they contained pork. They fed themselves with beans, pasta, soup etc. In this camp the Kosovars were encouraged to prepare their own food, and a few volunteers have become the camp cooks.

It was the job of the municipal authorities to distribute the food. The camp director complained that international relief was badly managed and accused international associations of becoming rich at the expense of the Albanians instead of boosting local trade and helping to combat unemployment. Albanian legislation did not provide for any means of control over these organisations.

Sanitary conditions deteriorated last summer. A very high standard of personal hygiene was necessary. The problem lay in running water supplies, which was a recurrent problem in Tirana. Efforts were being made to supply water round the clock. The camp had no stocks of detergent and was also lacking in mattresses, beds, blankets etc. The director wanted fewer refugees in the camp, as it was the largest after Kukes.

Thanks to the Albanian and foreign NGOs, a health centre had been set up in the camp, operating round the clock, with Kosovar doctors, ambulances and a casualty service.

There were no epidemics for the time being but many children were sick, under-nourished and dehydrated. They were growing thinner and thinner.

The schooling which began that day was run in tents in the camp. The director said that the parents did not want their children to go outside the camp; the textbooks came from UNICEF but the curriculum was devised by the Ministry of Education.

Albanian host families could no longer keep refugees, who moved out into the camp. They could not be blamed. People were sleeping on the floor in the sports complex reception centre.

All the camp's refugees had been registered and photographed. They had been given identity cards in order to restore their legal personality and all information on all families had been computerised. A civil status register had been set up specially for Kosovars.

Owing to the presence of the military police, there were no major incidents in the camp.

Any dead were buried in Tirana cemetery at the expense of the municipal authorities. The women gave birth in the city's maternity ward, where there was hot water and better food, and stayed there for 10 days before returning to the camp.

II.       Visit to the Cegrane camp on 10 June 1999

The CEGRANE camp was the biggest in "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and the only "open" one; in June it housed 45,000 refugees. A school had just been set up by UNICEF and taught 4,356 children split into 121 classes (classes 1 to 8), with 40 children per class and 124 Kosovar teachers, operating in 34 tents, with a special canteen for the children. Four teams of teachers worked from 8 am to 8 pm. There were not enough textbooks to go round.

All the refugees we spoke to thought that they would be home within a month of the peace agreement just signed and that the humanitarian organisations would assist their return and provide help on the spot for the rebuilding of their homes as soon as possible, once mines had been cleared.

The summer classes had to prepare the children for their return. The camp had two educationalists and the Red Cross had one psychiatrist. Traumatised children, who generally did not speak, began to speak again once in school and surrounded by classmates.

Winter in the camps would be disastrous owing to the temperatures common to the region; summer was also difficult, with temperatures reaching 45° and, already in June, the camp was experiencing water and hygiene problems; there were not enough showering facilities. Food was in limited supply and of poor quality. It would be good if the children could get out of the camp and go on holiday.

The organisation of the camp revolved around the participation of the refugees and there were no specific problems of public order or indeed of public health. The Médecins Sans Frontières organisation was present in the camp and a field hospital was run by the Norwegian Red Cross.

There were few specific problems concerning children other than classic cases of lost children; a system of bracelets had been devised and a reception point set up so that parents could retrieve them. Any orphans or abandoned children were looked after by other members of the family. Discussion and co-ordination efforts focused on how to best meet their needs: the NGO "Save the Children" searched for missing children using photographs and telephone inquiries, an Italian NGO entertained the children and handed out toys etc. The HCR played a co-ordinating role so that duplication was avoided.

Refugees were evacuated from the camp to all countries. Every day, 100 people left and 150 arrived. Space was becoming a problem. The refugees were mainly Kosovars. There were a few Roms. Serb and Croat refugees lodged with host families.

Reporting committee: Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Budgetary implications: none

Reference to committee: Doc. 8382 and Reference No. 2383 of 26 April 1999

Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 15 March 2000

Members of the committee: Mr Cox (Chairman), Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, Mr Hegyi, Mrs Gatterer (Vice-Chairs), Mrs Albrink , MM. Alis Font, Arnau, Mrs Belohorská, Mrs Biga-Friganovic, Mrs Björnemalm, Mrs Böhmer, Mr Cesario, Mrs Chikhradze, MM. Christodoulides, Chyzh, Dees, Dhaille, Duivesteijn, Evin, Flynn, Gibula, Glesener, Gregory, Ms Gülek, MM. Gusenbauer, Haack, Hancock, Mrs Høegh, Mr Hrebenciuc (Alternate: Mr Paslaru), Mrs Jirousova, Mr Kalos, Mrs Kulbaka, Mrs Laternser, Mr Liiv, Mrs Lotz, Mrs Luhtanen, MM. Lupu, Mrs Markovska, MM. Marmazov (Alternate: Mr Baburin), Martelli, Marty, Mattei (Alternate: Mr Birraux), Monfils, Mozgan, Mularoni, Mrs Näslund, Mr Ouzky, Mrs Paegle, Mrs Poptodorova, Mrs Pozza Tasca, Mrs Pulgar, MM. Raskinis, Rizzi (Alternate: Mr Polenta), Santkin, Sharapov, Skoularikis, Mrs Stefani, MM. Surján, Tahir, Telek, Troncho, Vella, Mrs Vermot-Mangold (Alternate: Mr Gross), MM. Volodin, Voronin, Wójcik

NB:       The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries to the committee: Mr Dronov a.i., Mrs Meunier and Mrs Clamer