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1999 NCC News Archives

CWS Forwards $900,000 for Tents, Bedding for Kosovo Refugees
Church World Service’s Goal -- $1.2 Million in Kosovo Crisis Response

Related Web Pages:
April 12, 1999, Update on CWS Response
Church World Service Hotline
To Make a Contribution for Kosovo Aid
Church World Service Emergency Response - Europe
Interaction Index to Humanitarian Agency Response
NCC Calls for All-Sides Kosovo Cease-Fire Eastern Orthodox Weekend April 9-12

How to Help

Send contributions to Church World Service, (Attn. Kosovo Crisis, 28606 Phillips Street, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone: (800) 297-1516, ext. 222.

Who We Are

Thirty-five Protestant and Orthodox denominations and communions work together through Church World Service – a ministry of the National Council of Churches – to meet human need in more than 80 countries including the United States.

March 30, 1999, NEW YORK -- Church World Service today is transmitting $800,000 for tents, blankets and mattresses to a partner agency in Albania as part of an international ecumenical program of short-term "crisis" assistance to refugees, displaced and others affected by the recent escalation of military strikes and violence in Kosovo.

The 1,000 tents, 25,000 blankets and 10,000 mattresses are being purchased in the region and distributed by Diaconie Agape, the social and development office of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, and has been working within Albania to assist Kosovo refugees with material assistance.

This $800,000 is in addition to the $100,000 for blankets and bedding already channeled through International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the official overseas humanitarian assistance agency of Orthodox Christians in the United States and Canada. IOCC has delivered basic supplies to refugees since 1993. Last week, growing security concerns forced IOCC to withdraw most of its staff to outlying areas surrounding the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but the staff is still working in assisting refugees in affected areas.

The situation in Kosovo continues to worsen, with some 100,000 refugees from Kosovo having fled the Serb province during the past week, and relief officials warning the exodus has created the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.

With NATO air strikes against Yugoslav forces continuing -- and criticized by a number of church organizations, including the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Church World Service and Witness (CWSW) Unit Committee -- the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has accused the Yugoslav forces of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, forcing refugees to flee the province to neighboring Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. UNHCR reports 90,000 have left Kosovo this week, while NATO estimates 118,000 have fled, the Reuters news agency reported.

The goal of the CWS response and the wider ACT appeal is to provide short-term humanitarian assistance and relief -- including food, hygienic materials, sanitation, drinking water, shelter, clothing and medicines -- for vulnerable refugees, displaced persons and others affected by the military conflict and violence in Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and other areas of the former Yugoslavia.

Church World Service is seeking a total of $1.2 million in denominational and public support for Kosovo crisis response through partners within the Action by Churches (ACT) International network. Other ACT-member agencies working in the region include the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (ACT/MCIC), Norwegian Church Aid and Hungarian Interchurch Aid.

The IOCC's current program in the former Yugoslavia involves delivery of basic supplies to refugees living in collective centers and in private accommodations, including the largest care and maintenance program for refugees in Kosovo.

More than 65,000 refugees in Kosovo who have been aided by IOCC have been cut off from vital humanitarian assistance due to the NATO military strikes. "We are deeply concerned for the people of Kosovo and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," said Constantine M. Triantafilou, Executive Director of IOCC. "We continue to do all that we can to address the needs of innocent civilians who have been impacted by the conflict."

"The numbers of people in need of our assistance will grow in the days and weeks to come," said Triantafilou. Initial reports from staff in the region indicate that the number of civilians fleeing the region are rapidly increasing. The multi-ethnic staff of IOCC operates from distribution centers in Podgorica, Montenegro and Decani, Kosovo.

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