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Friday, September 10, 1999 Published at 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK


World: Europe

Call to protect Kosovo minorities

Many ethnic minorities feel they have no future in Kosovo

By Paul Wood in Pristina

Two of the leading international organisations in Kosovo have issued a report, warning of an alarming deterioration in the situation for many of the minority communities in the province over the past two months.

Kosovo: Special Report
The report was published jointly by the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE.

It calls on Kosovar political leaders to do more to stop the violence and discrimination against minorities.

Targets

The report acknowledges that the security situation has improved in some areas of the province.

But it says sporadic violence is continuing and this, coupled with discrimination against Serbs and gypsies in health care, jobs and housing, means that people are continuing to flee the province.

The UNHCR's special envoy here, Dennis McNamara, says that Kosovar political leaders must do more to stop the collective punishment of those Serbs and gypsies who remain.

"We would like to see more active on-the-ground leadership, yes, preventive action," he told the BBC.

" We don't see much of that in the towns and villages where we are getting these reports from, or in Pristina for that matter. I think absolutely that action is a necessary part of being a leader in this community," he said.

Violence continues

In the past week alone, there has been armed rioting in northern Kosovo in the town of Mitrovica, mortar attacks on Serb villages in the East, near Gnjilane, and a string of killings, shootings and kidnappings.

What worries international officials, though, is not just the continuing revenge attacks.

So many Serbs are unable to get treatment when they go to the hospitals, now run by ethnic Albanians, or to get jobs in Albanian companies that most believe - even if the violence does stop - that they have no long-term future in Kosovo.



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