Yugoslavia's humanitarian situation has stabilized, but aid still needed - UN report

Yugoslavia's humanitarian situation has stabilized, but aid still needed - UN report

Democratic reform has stabilized the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but persisting humanitarian challenges must be met with international aid, according to a report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan released today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

"As the transition continues - with new opportunities for durable solutions being provided, capacity of State basic services being increased and the need for humanitarian assistance being reduced - the country still hosts more than 600,000 refugees and internally displaced persons, and specific vulnerable groups remain dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs and help them to rebuild their lives," Mr. Annan notes.

Kosovo presents perhaps the most urgent situation in the country, according to the report, which notes that problems there are "difficult and protracted." Despite some improvements, "the slow pace of returns of ethnic minorities and continued restrictions on the freedom of movement of minorities within Kosovo remains a great cause for concern."

In response, the Secretary-General stresses the need for a strong commitment by the new Kosovo Government to support a multi-ethnic society, reconciliation between majority ethnic Albanians and minorities, and the return of minorities presently outside of the province to their former homes.

"While humanitarian needs have declined significantly since 2001, continued donor support to United Nations agencies in the short and medium-term will be crucial to meet immediate basic needs," the Secretary-General says.