Winter is now the major threat for a large proportion of Kosovos
population. The goal of the ongoing winterization efforts in Kosovo
is to enable those people to get through the winter months alive.
The leading agency
in the enormous task of winterization in Kosovo is the United
Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). It is co-ordinating
the work of a multitude of non-governmental organisations. KFOR
too, is doing its best to support the UNHCR and to contribute
to the collective winterization efforts. One of COMKFORs priorities
is winterization, because it is an element of stability over the
"KFOR has been
very helpful in delivering winterization items, especially in
reaching some of the more remote and mountaineous areas of Kosovo.
And KFOR will also be useful in the time to come, because this
work will be going on all winter," says UNHCR spokesman Peter
Kessler to the KFOR Chronicle.
"So much damage"
work is going forward. But there is so much damage all over Kosovo,
and not enough time. The scale of damage is huge," he says.
The UNHCR assesses
that across Kosovo, some 120,000 houses are completely destroyed
or damaged in 2,000 villages and towns. This represents more than
a third of the houses in this small province, with the main supply
"The Kosovo population
is up against a great challenge, not only this winter, but for
the next few years. We cannot reconstruct the houses, we can only
provide rehabilitation assistance to help people through winter,"
part of the winterization efforts is the distribution of tens
of thousands of emergency shelter kits, which essentially consist
of plastic sheeting and wood strips that are used to provide households
with at least one dry room until sustainable reconstruction can
begin next year.
KFORs main winterization
contribution consists of transportation of such shelter kits and
other winterisation materials, including the "Shelter Express"
exercises, "Firewood Express" and operation "Village Hope." But
winterization is so much more than shelter kits. It is a conglomerate
of all aspects needed to get ready for winter. According to Chief
CIMIC at KFOR HQ, Colonel George Borrey, KFOR soldiers have been
and are helping with the distribution of tents, food, clothes,
heaters and stoves, blankets, mattresses, sleeping bags, firewood,
fuel and winter seeds. They have also been providing medical care,
fixing water pumps, repairing and clearing roads, helping restore
electricity and repaire power plants as well as rebuilding houses,
schools and orphanages.
"Every day, we
are doing more and more," says Col Borrey.
associated with winterization increase with the dropping temperatures.
Identified areas of concern receive emergency assistance daily.
However, the needs still go far beyond what is distributed and
even available. According to Col Borrey the winterization efforts
are being hampered by the fact that the incoming flow of the winterization
materials over the border to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
(1), the umbilical cord of the winterisation efforts into Kosovo,
is not fast enough.
(1) Turkey recognizes
the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.