Visit to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo) – September 1998

The Special Representative visited the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, from 10 to 12 September 1998, after strong initial reservations by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Government’s reservations were based on their position that there was no “armed conflict’ in Kosovo – only acts of terrorism perpetrated by Kosovo Albanians — and that the situation in Kosovo was purely an internal affair of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

During the visit the Special Representative met with senior government officials; members of the international diplomatic community, including representatives of the Contact Group, the European Community Monitoring Mission and the European Union Troika; the heads of United Nations agencies; representatives of non-governmental organizations; and, the representative of ICRC.

Throughout the visit, the Special Representative emphasized the humanitarian character of his mandate and his preoccupation with the fate of all children affected by conflict, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliations or the source of their victimization.

The visit had three objectives:

  1. To witness first-hand the humanitarian situation in Kosovo and in particular to assess the impact of the ongoing violence on children;
  2. To witness the situation of Serbian refugee children in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, most of whose families had earlier fled from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Croatia;
  3. To assess the impact of the ongoing Sanctions regime on children in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

It was estimated that some 300,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Kosovo, more than 60 per cent of whom are children and over 20 per cent women. About 50,000 of the displaced persons were stranded in The OPen in the mountains and the woods. In order to end the suffering of displaced persons and other civilians in Kosovo, particularly children and women, the Special Representative called on the international community and the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to take immediate political action, involving a three-pronged response, as follows: (a)Provision of increased humanitarian relief; (b)Return of displaced populations; and, (c) Ceasefire and political negotiations.

In his discussions the Special Representative raised several issues pertaining to the rights, protection and welfare of children:

  • Kidnappings and killings by the Kosovo Liberation Army.
  • Education for Kosovo Albanians
  • Recruitment and use of children
  • Use of Landmines
  • Assistance for Serbian refugees in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • Monitoring the impact of Sanctions on children
  • Observing the Convention on the Rights of the Child