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More work needed to repair physical, psychological damage in Kosovo - Annan

More work needed to repair physical, psychological damage in Kosovo - Annan

While there has been some progress in reconstructing buildings and restoring community relations in Kosovo after March's deadly outbreak of ethnic violence, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says a lot "remains to be done to repair the physical and psychological damage."

Almost 2,400 people are still displaced from their homes and minority groups in the province continue to lack freedom of movement and access to public service, Mr. Annan says in his regular report to the Security Council on the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

He says the leaders of Kosovo's majority Albanian community must reach out to the minority groups, such as the Serbs, who were the target of two days of violence in March that left 19 people dead and hundreds of homes and religious and cultural sites damaged or destroyed.

The Secretary-General also calls on leaders of both the Albanian and Serbian communities to translate their joint declaration last month to reconstruct damaged houses and to help the internally displaced return home from words into actions.

But he says he is concerned that the Kosovo Assembly's recent moves to amend the province's constitutional framework are beyond its powers and a sign that its members are not focused on tackling "Kosovo's immediate priorities."

Those priorities include the process of standards implementation, a UN-supervised plan which sets specific goals in such areas as the building of democratic institutions, the enforcement of rights for minorities and the creation of a functioning economy. Its provisions include the holding of free and fair elections and the establishment of an impartial legal system.

UN officials have said previously that any decision on Kosovo's permanent future status can only be determined after the standards have been achieved.

In his report Mr. Annan also says he has received the review of Ambassador Kai Eide of Norway, who was tasked in June with probing the political implications of the violence in March. He says he will now study Mr. Eide's recommendations.

The Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting Thursday on Kosovo, which has been under the administration of UNMIK since June 1999.