With Serbia and Montenegro's food crisis over, UN agency ends work there

5 March 2004

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today the end of its operation in Serbia and Montenegro, which at its height served 700,000 people, proclaiming the food emergency there over.

The agency, which recently shut down its office in Podgorica, will officially close its branch in Belgrade at the end of this month.

At the peak of its operation in 1999-2000, WFP was assisting some 700,000 people, half of whom were refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Croatia and the other half local cases, including displaced people from Kosovo.

This month, WFP will feed nearly 55,000 of the most vulnerable people in Serbia and Montenegro before handing over the caseload to the Government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"We feel that the time is now right to leave," explained WFP's Lars Bjorkman. "We had already prolonged the operation for two years to make sure that the country was indeed getting back on its feet."

WFP started its emergency operation in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in late 1992 following the first round of armed conflict there, racing against time to bring food assistance to the frightened, hungry and destitute victims.

With peace returning to the region, some refugees have opted to go back to their former homes in Croatia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under these conditions, WFP has been able to gradually and systematically start phasing down its operation.

 

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