U.N. wants full accounting of Kosovo's missing and dead
November 5, 1999
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Security and justice cannot be achieved in Kosovo until all those who were killed or disappeared in the war last spring are accounted for, a top United Nations official said Friday.
Bernard Kouchner, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative for Kosovo, said "the spirit of revenge is so high after 40 years" that there is no confidence in the legal justice system among Kosovars.
Speaking after briefing the U.N. Security Council, Kouchner said that every week, "there are new mass graves full of bodies" discovered in the southern Serbian province.
Despite the presence of 45,000 NATO-led peacekeepers and a U.N. administration, Kosovo officially remains part of Serbia, the larger of the two remaining Yugoslav republics.
Serb-led Yugoslav forces withdrew from the province in June, when a 78-day NATO bombing campaign pushed President Slobodan Milosevic to accept a peace plan ending his 18-month crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.
Kouchner said resolving the issue of missing persons is of utmost importance in achieving security and justice.
It is impossible for the Albanians, Serbs and other ethic groups to coexist without some explanation to the families of the missing on the fate of their loved ones, Kouchner said.
He said from 5,000 to 20,000 people are believed to be buried in mass graves.
Kouchner also appealed for more money to fund the U.N. operation (UNMIK) in Kosovo. Another $135 million is needed by the middle of next year to fund restoration efforts by the U.N. civil administration there, he said.
"Without that money, people will go back to the black market," Kouchner predicted.
Meanwhile, the United Nations' top human rights official for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia criticized UNMIK in a new report to the General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee.
In his report, Jiri Dienstbier said, "Although it has slipped from international headlines, the Kosovo crisis has not ended."
"The spring ethnic cleansing of Albanians, accompanied by murders, torture, looting and burning of houses, has been replaced by the fall ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians, accompanied by the same atrocities," Dienstbier said.
He said the abuses are happening "in the presence of UNMIK, KFOR and OSCE," the international organizations maintaining the truce in Kosovo.
Dienstbier said 250,000 residents have been displaced since mid-June from Kosovo, "a region that has rapidly lost most of its non-Albanian population."
The newly displaced population includes Serbs, Muslim Slavs and people of mixed ethnicity, as well as Kosovo Albanians fearful of charges of collaboration leveled by the Kosovo Liberation Army, which waged an armed campaign against Serb rule, he said.
The KLA was demilitarized and transformed into a humanitarian civilian corps in September.
But according to the report, the KLA has created its own de facto government, outside of UNMIK's control. The KLA "appoints mayors, directors of enterprises and other officials," and pursues a policy of ethnic cleansing in jobs and property confiscation, Dienstbier noted.
"UNMIK should appoint to posts in the provisional multi-ethnic administration only persons who have demonstrated their democratic beliefs ... No one who took up arms, not to mention those who committed war crimes, should be permitted to hold public office," the report says.
Serbs float plan to partition Kosovo along ethnic lines
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