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from issue no. 04 - 2003

All the statistics for the Kosovo powder-keg

An endless post bellum

All the statistics for the Kosovo powder-keg

by Gianni Valente

Soldiers and UN staff
At present in Kosovo there are about 26,000 KFOR soldiers (the military force led by NATO) from 38 countries. Another 2,000 are stationed in Greece and Macedonia to guarantee logistical support for the KFOR mission. The Italian military (army, Carabinieri, air-force and some naval personnel) are around 4,000. The KFOR has its headquarters in Pristina (where 560 soldiers are deployed, including 120 Italians, and about 500 civilians) and has four brigades stationed in the various areas of Kosovo: Pristina (brigade under British command), Bondsteel, (brigade under American command), Mitrovica (brigade under French command), Prizren (Italo-German brigade, currently under German command). The Italian units are concentrated in Pec, Decani and Djakovica and, apart from the normal operational tasks, they are protecting two of the most famous Serb Orthodox religious sites.
There are also 16,000 civilians and police in Kosovo employed by the UN. The UNMIK, the UN mission for Kosovo, also includes about 5,000 local members of the Kosovan police (KPS). Italy contributes to the UN security forces with policemen and Finance Police.

Between 1998 and 1999 about 860,000 Albanian Kosovans left the region. The vast majority of these returned within a few weeks of the arrival of the KFOR forces in 1999. In the same period about 230,00 Serbs and Roms fled from Kosovo. Currently, always according to data provided by the UN Agency for refugees (UNHCR), 201,000 refugees are in Serbia (of whom around 75% are Serb), about 30,000 are in Montenegro. The minorities who return to Kosovo live in enclaves or on the margins of society. So one can’t speak of real integration. Some figures are truly frustrating: in the region of Pec, where 32,000 Serbs lived before the war, now only 1,300 live. In the city of Pec there are only a score of nuns and seven Serb civilians. In Pristina there were 50,000 Serbs and now there are 200. In Gniljane there are 275 Serbs, in Prizren 90, in Djakovica 10. Many of these people, furthermore, can get by only thanks to the constant protection of the KFOR. The reintegration operations set up have so far achieved no appreciable results. Last year percentages for returns were truly very small. In the two years 2000-2002 around 6,000 exiles and refugees, of whom 3,400 Serbs, returned to Kosovo.

Churches and mosques
The Islamic community in Kosovo has recently declared that between 1998 and the end of the war in Kosovo four Koranic schools, 86 minarets and 212 out of the 560 existing mosques, some of which dating to the 15th and 16th centuries, have been destroyed, burned, demolished or vandalized by groups of ethnic Serbs.
In the immediate post-war period (June-September 1999), before the demilitarization of the Albanian UCK militia, groups of ethnic Albanians destroyed, burned or vandalized between 76 and 103 (according of the source) Serb churches, monasteries or monuments, some of high historico-artistic value. In the sector of the multi-national east brigade (under Italian command), corresponding to the Metohija (an area of Orthodox religious property), the more important Serb religious sites such as the patriarchate of Pec and the monasteries of Visoki Decani and Djakovica were immediately put under protection.
Up to December of 2001 the KFOR stationed fixed guards on 66 churches assigning priority to structures of historico-artistic interest particularly at risk and to religious sites serving the religious activities of the communities of the few remaining Serbs. During 2002 fixed direct protection was kept up for 26 sites, located mainly in places where there are small Serb communites at risk. Responsibility for the security of the other sites has been passed to the local police, while the KFOR ensured, and ensures, area protection. In 2002 there were 24 episodes of vandalism and two churches were damaged, but up to last November no hostile action had been directed against the forty churches for which the type of protection was changed.

Crime statistics for 2002 have recently been published by the UNMIK police. They can be summarized as follows: 68 murders, 144 abductions, 114 rapes, 463 assaults, 365 robberies, 477 cases of arson, 6 lootings. In addition to these, there are other figures, such as 953 violations relating to the possession of weapons; and there were 335 assaults on the Kosovan police (KPS) and 141 against the UNMIK. The victims of the 68 murders were: sixty ethnic Albanians, six ethnic Serbs and two from other ethnia. The total of criminal acts recorded in 2002 was 1,807, as against 1,695 in 2001 and the 2,194 in 2000.
Certain recent episodes, such as the explosion of a car-bomb on 13 December in Pristina which wounded about 30 people, may be the work of organized gangs aiming to intimidate witnesses in local trials. The killing of a former officer of the FARK, on 4 January last, suggests a settling of accounts, though the people and reasons behind it remain unknown. It’s true, however, that out of 17 murders linked to political rivalries as many as 13 concerned members of the LDK party led by President Ibrahim Rugova.
Last February, on a warrant from the International Court, three Albanian extremists from Kosovo were arrested to be extradited to the Hague, where they are currently on trial for crimes against humanity. The name that stands out is that of Fatmir Limaj, one of the leaders of the disbanded Army of Liberation of Kosovo (UCK) and current number two in the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), arrested in Slovenia and extradited by the legal authorities of Lubiana. The other two arrests were made in Kosovo by the KFOR.

(we thank Colonel Massimo Panizzi, head of the KFOR press office
for the statistics)

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