IRC Team Returns to Kosovo
Roy Brennan and Luan Meraku, a Kosovar employee of the IRC who had taken refuge in Macedonia, re-opened the IRC’s Pristina warehouse, which had been closed since the start of the NATO bombing.
Additional team members will arrive in the province on Tuesday.
As was the case before the bombing began, the IRC will operate throughout Kosovo. In addition, the agency will manage a distribution center in the city of Gnjilane. It will be the primary facility serving residents of the the southeast portion of the province bordering Macedonia.
The center will furnish food, personal hygiene items and other essential supplies and materials needed by the local population.
Planning began weeks ago, so the IRC team will start the job with a set of detailed operational guidelines in hand. The team will focus initially on shelter and housing rehabilitation, water and sanitation, health and medical assistance, logistics and distribution and community development. Half of the homes in Kosovo have been destroyed or badly damaged, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And in many areas, land mines, booby traps and unexploded bombs and shells will be a threat for sometime to come.
Meanwhile, the IRC continues serving tens of thousands of Kosovars who have taken refuge in Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. Their return to Kosovo is expected to take months.
Prior to the start of the bombing, the IRC had some 150 employees in the province, including about 100 local citizens. Despite continuing efforts to trace them, 30 of the 100 remain unaccounted for.