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1999 NCC News Archives

CWS/NCC Looks Ahead to Ongoing Needs in Kosovo Response

Who We Are

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

How to Help

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

June 24, 1999, NEW YORK -- Looking ahead to ongoing needs as Kosovar refugees begin to return home or find they must remain in camps, Church World Service is seeking support for five responses in the region as it anticipates providing $3.4 million in material and financial assistance by the end of the summer.

"As the peace process begins to unfold, Church World Service is joining with other organizations and with our partners in the region in laying plans to help with the return of refugees and the rebuilding of Kosovo," said Donna Derr, Interim Emergency Response Director for NCC/CWS.

"This is a defining moment," said William Sage, Interim Director of the NCC/CWS Immigration and Refugee Program (IRP), who recently visited Macedonia as part of a U.S. Voluntary Resettlement Agency delegation. "Even though we are hopeful of the return, we insist that security and other basic living conditions be met.

"We also insist that resettlement is maintained as a viable option," he said, "particularly for people with relatives and for the many refugees with special medical and other needs. In our visit, we found the refugees were guardedly optimistic about their immediate future and fearful that the Balkan winter will set in before they can return to Kosovo."

IRP has been resettling Kosovar refugees in the United States with the help of local churches in a half dozen states, including Illinois, New York and Texas.

The five parts of the ongoing CWS response include:

  • The CWS-Bosnia Program will continue to provide short-term humanitarian aid to refugees, host families and vulnerable returnees in three areas: Hercegovacko-Neretvanski, Grahavo and Sarajevo. A projected 6,800 refugees in collective centers/camps and about 500 host families serving 2,000 refugees will be assisted.
  • A U.S.-based non-governmental organization in Macedonia will provide for the purchase and distribution of $90,000 worth of medicines to Tetovo Medical Center, serving the medical needs of Kosovar refugees in Macedonia. The medicines will include antibiotics, analgesics and TB treatments, and will provide for some of the needs of approximately 25,000 refugees.
  • A foods resource bank valued at $348,000 would provide food and seed shipments to Macedonia. Vegetable seeds would include planting information in Albanian and Serbo-Croatian.
  • A request by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has been made for an additional $125,000 in blanket funds in order to purchase mattresses and bedding to serve refugees and internally displaced persons in Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.
  • Continued support for the Action by Churches Together (ACT) appeal for $18,895,700 which enables ACT members to provide immediate relief assistance to refugees, displaced persons and others affected by the recent war in Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and other locales. ACT is an international network of humanitarian aid organizations.

So far, NCC/CWS assistance has included the aforementioned refugee resettlement, material goods, visits to the region and advocacy with government officials here. Highlights include:

  • In late April-early May, Dr. Campbell, along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, co-led the interfaith delegation that secured the release of three U.S. POWs. The delegation also met with Yugoslav religious community representatives (Christian, Muslim and Jewish).
  • May 26-27, Paul Wilson, NCC Europe Office Director, attended a consultation on the churches and the crisis in the Balkans held in Budapest, Hungary, and jointly organized by the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches. The over 40 church leaders present discussed the needs of a Christian response which includes preventive action, education, interreligious dialogue and building on existing and new networks within civil society.
  • CWS staff and donors recently visited three refugee camps and longer-term humanitarian assistance projects in Bosnia with an eye toward how such rebuilding and reconciliation projects might be replicated in Kosovo.

    Material assistance has been provided as follows:

  • $800,000 to purchase 1,000 tents, 25,000 blankets and 10,000 mattresses to Diaconie Agape in Albania
  • $53,000 to Diaconie Agape for baby food and formula
  • $100,000 for blankets and bedding and other needs in Montenegro and Serbia to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)
  • $265,000 for blankets and bedding supplies to the CWS Bosnia Program
  • $10,000 health kits, 6,230 school kits, 5,000 sewing kits,1,065 baby kits and medicines to the CWS Bosnia Program -- total value $318,555
  • 9,500 family wear packages of underwear, sanitary napkins, socks and soap and additional such items to Diaconie Agape in Albania -- total value $94,623

Additionally, Linda Hartke, CWS Operations Officer, will travel to Macedonia and Kosovo June 29-July 2 as part of a joint delegation to survey first-hand the humanitarian, human rights and refugee situation there and to make recommendations for a long-term strategy for ecumenical work in Kosovo.

-end-

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