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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK


World: Europe

Kosovo 'needs urgent shelter'

More houses have been burnt down since refugees began returning

United Nations agencies in the Balkans are appealing for more than $400m in emergency aid to fund their humanitarian efforts in the region until the end of the year.

Kosovo: Special Report
Twelve agencies are asking for a total of $434m. They say without the money their work to protect Serbs from attack and remove mines from Kosovo will be jeopardised.

Senior European Commission official, Roy Dickinson, said that 75,000 homes - around a quarter of all those in Kosovo - had been destroyed or were impossible to repair.

"We want to make sure there is no humanitarian crisis this winter," he said.

He said the problem had been compounded by the fact that some 800,000 people who fled the province during the conflict have now returned, and are living either with relatives, in homes which do not belong to them, or in tents.


[ image: Many Kosovo Albanian homes were destroyed by the Serbs]
Many Kosovo Albanian homes were destroyed by the Serbs
Hundreds of schools and medical centres also need rebuilding and repairing.

Despite the destruction, however, the World Bank (WB) has lowered its post-war estimate of the cost of reconstruction, down to about $1.23bn.

"The damage generally comes out at the lower end of what people have estimated," said Rory O'Sullivan, a regional WB official.


The BBC's Rob Watson: The US is to give $500m for reconstruction in Kosovo
A big meeting of more than 100 donor nations, NGOs and UN officials will be held in Brussels on Wednesday - in advance of a "Balkan aid summit" in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, on Friday.

The United States has announced that it will give up to $500m in humanitarian aid to Kosovo.

At the same time, the Red Cross has launched an appeal for $80m to help Kosovo refugees and homeless people in the coming weeks.

Call for Danube funding

As donor countries prepare for the Brussels conference, there have been calls for funding to rebuild the bridges along the Danube in Serbia.


[ image: Nato targetted the bridges along the Danube]
Nato targetted the bridges along the Danube
A team of experts from countries that use the Danube for trade and transport has said that it will cost more than $90m to re-open the river and repair all the bridges that were hit during the Nato air campaign.

The Serbian newspaper, Politika, said the experts from the 11-nation Danube Commission were ending a four-day fact-finding visit to Yugoslavia.

They said clearing the river of debris could take up to six months, and repairing and rebuilding bridges would require up to three years.

The Commission is expected to approach the European Union and the World Bank to help fund the project.

Fear and anger in Gracko

Meanwhile, investigators in Kosovo have released the bodies of two of the victims of Friday's massacre, in which 14 Serb farmers were shot dead near the village of Gracko.


Clarence Mitchell: "Refugee families are starting to return home"
The funeral was due to take place on Monday, but was delayed because the autopsies had not been completed.

BBC correspondent Nick Childs says the atmosphere in the village was sombre, as military police conducted further house-to-house inquiries.

Serbs were confused and angry with K-For peacekeeping troops, who had failed to provide the Serb farmers with extra security until it was too late.

The farmers were ambushed and shot dead as they returned from an evening harvesting hay, in the worst single incident since K-For moved into the province and Yugoslav forces pulled out..

The families of the victims were told only on Monday morning that they could not bury their dead as planned.

A memorial service being organised by the UN administration here was also abandoned.

K-For insists it is doing all it can to find those behind the killings, and will provide adequate security for the funeral when it does take place. But it is still unclear when that will be.

The Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic, said that K-For and the UN mission in Kosovo were "fully and exclusively responsible" for the massacre.



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