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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
UN attacked over Kosovo record
UN troops retreat from demonstrators in Mitrovica
UN policies in Mitrovica are harshly criticised

The United Nations has been accused of failing its mandate in Kosovo, effectively allowing the region to be split into Serb and Albanian enclaves.

A report published by the International Crisis Group, an independent political think tank, focuses on the divided city of Mitrovica, the scene of frequent violence over the last three years.

It says the UN has allowed the Serbian Government extensive control over Serb-speaking areas - a development, it says, that threatens to jeopardise talks on the future of the province.

UN soldier guarding a bus carrying Serb refugees
Mitrovica has been the scene of bitter ethnic tensions
It is almost three years since the United Nations assumed control over Kosovo.

In that time, it has built up a regional government and a judicial system more or less from scratch.

But according to the International Crisis Group, the presence of these structures has barely been felt in Kosovo's Serb enclaves.

It describes what it says are the Serbian Government's attempts to undermine the UN's authority in Mitrovica, as well as other Serb-speaking areas.

Violent clashes

It notes that sectors such as health, education and justice are still controlled by ministries in Belgrade - something Serb politicians openly admit.

It says the Serbian Government has financed a self-styled security group in Mitrovica which has been responsible for violent clashes with the UN police.

The most recent incident, in April, saw 23 policemen injured by grenades.

Under the United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, the Serbian Government should have relinquished its control of local structures in June 1999.

Nevertheless, most Serbs still see the UN as an occupying power in Kosovo.

It is in the light of this, perhaps, that the report reserves some of its strongest criticisms for the UN mission as well as Nato peacekeeping troops.

The ICG accuses them of doing little to challenge Serbia's growing influence.

It is called for the replacement of French troops in Mitrovica and greater international pressure on Belgrade to co-operate with the UN.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Valerie Percival, International Crisis Group
"Mitrovica has a destabilising impact on the rest of Kosovo"
News and analysis from Kosovo following November's election


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24 May 02 | Scotland
22 Jul 02 | Scotland
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