December 10, 1999
Table of Contents
Appendix I: Mass Expulsion from Kosovo: An Epidemiological Survey of Displaced Kosovars in Rozaje, Montenegro
In order to evaluate the situation and needs of the Kosovar population deported en masse to the neighboring countries of Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has taken two initiatives:
1 - an epidemiological survey was carried out mid-April 1999 among the displaced population arriving in Rozaje, Montenegro [Appendix I].
2 - the collection of deportee witness accounts was undertaken in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro to complete the epidemiological data with a qualitative approach [Appendix II].
The epidemiological study was carried out on a population of 1,537 people (201 families), considered as representative of the 25,000 refugees who had arrived in Rozaje (Montenegro). It covers the events that occurred in more than 50 villages, as well as in Pec and Istok, between March 24 and April 15, 1999. The aim of this study was to investigate the demographic characteristics of this population, the impact of the exactions committed on them, and to evaluate their most urgent vital needs.
The witness accounts collected by Doctors Without Borders in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro trace the experiences of 639 people in 43 cities or villages in Kosovo between March 25th and April 16th, 1999. People answered a standard questionnaire regarding the conditions surrounding their personal departure and the fate of members of their family. By comparing witness accounts and dates, the report attempts to reconstruct events that took place in certain Kosovar villages and towns. In considering only direct eyewitness accounts, the report tries to limit the impact of rumor on the accounts.
The 8 regions of Kosovo concerned are: Dakovica, Drenica, Mitrovica, Orahovac, Klina and north of Klina, Prizren and south of Prizren, Istok, Pec, and Pristina.
For ethical reasons, the questionnaire did not raise the question of rape. Sexual violence has been discussed in a medical context only
The coherence and similarities of the witness accounts reveal the deportations from Kosovo as part of a systematic policy in which the modus operandi, participants, and objectives can only have been pre-planned. The crimes committed qualify as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The epidemiological survey and the individual witness accounts highlight the following:
1. The main cause of population movement is deportation.
The population is not fleeing armed confrontations: they are being forced to leave their city or village under the threat of death. The epidemiological survey shows that 91% of the displaced Kosovars in Rozaje, Montenegro, have been forced to leave their homes after direct threats or attacks. In the vast majority of cases, the military objective is to deport the entire population of a given area. Force and terror are used to empty entire villages. On the other side of the border, groups of displaced Kosovars, including entire families, neighborhoods, and villages are to be found.
2. Deportation is accompanied by looting and destruction of deportee possessions:
The witness accounts report the burning of buildings, the destruction of property, and the killing of cattle. Deportees are often victims of extortion by different groups of police and paramilitary; among those who cannot pay, certain are executed in front of other deportees. Cars are often stolen or large sums of money are exacted from owners in order to keep their vehicles. Doctors Without Borders teams in the field confirm that refugees arriving in the neighboring countries have few if any personal possessions with them.
Murders in connection with acts of theft and racketeering represent a significant proportion of the deaths mentioned in the witness accounts.
3. Methods of enforced deportation are almost identical everywhere.
Violence and selective murder form an integral part of the method used to spread terror and punish those who refuse to obey evacuation orders. Violence increases in proportion to the amount of time that passes after the initial evacuation order is issued.
A typical method of enforced deportation is as follows:
Firstly: Either the village (or the area) is bombed, or the police go house to house ordering residents to evacuate, threatening them with death if they do not leave.
The presence and actions of the police, paramilitary, and military troops create an atmosphere of terror. Houses are set alight, grenades are launched on buildings, and cattle are killed. Many corroborating witness accounts describe the killing and injuring of family members. Most of the injured or dead are wounded as a result of explosions of grenades inside houses.
Villagers who manage to flee and find temporary refuge in neighboring villages or towns often experience the same chain of events in new locations. Populations from different villages are organized into groups. From these locations, groups of people are deported in convoys to border crossing points.
Secondly: If people refuse to obey evacuation orders, they suffer violent repercussions, including being surrounded by tanks, bombed, and shot at by police or paramilitary. The assassination of entire families has been reported. With the passage of time the attacks on the population remaining in Kosovo become more violent.
At the moment of expulsion: Village residents are gathered together and the men are often separated from the women. They are interrogated and searched, and money and identity papers are taken from them. The men usually rejoin the group later. Once the villages have been emptied they are systematically burned.
The population is then led in convoys, controlled by the military, to other locations where populations are grouped together again and taken to one of the different border crossing points. The journey to the border is usually taken on foot or by tractor. It can take several days or nights without the possibility to stop and rest. 93% of families who have arrived in Rozaje (Montenegro) have crossed the mountains on foot (through an average of 1.2 meters of snow). Trains and buses have also been used, from Pristina, for example.
4. Groups reported to be responsible for enforcing the deportation are always the same.
The police, paramilitary groups, and the federal army are present in all the witness accounts. These different forces act in collaboration with each other; there is no disagreement reported between these troops.
5. The police and army systematically confiscate and destroy identity papers.
The absence of identity papers varies depending on the individual mode of deportation. Those refugees who have crossed the border posts in Albania have nearly all been body-searched and no longer have any form of identification.
When these searches were not carried out systematically, e.g. at the border crossings with Montenegro and Macedonia, a number of people manage to hide and keep their identity papers. In Rozaje, Montenegro, 46% of the deported population have no identity papers, the rest have some form of identification.
6. The injured, missing, and dead.
Although there are no reliable figures on the number of deaths, injured and missing within each family, the epidemiological survey carried out by Doctors Without Borders in Montenegro shows that the male/female ratio is unbalanced. There is 13% lack of males in the 15-55 age group. The study shows that 28% of families have left at least one member of the family in Kosovo.
More than half the witness accounts describe murders that were committed under various conditions, indicating an extremely high level of violence.
The accounts repeatedly describe the following:
7. Separation of men and women.
The separation of men and women is frequently mentioned in witness accounts. It often occurs at the beginning of the attacks. In most cases, the aim is to make the men talk, and to rob them of their money and identity papers. There are some accounts of murders as part of the policy of spreading general terror.
The separation of men and women can occur along the deportation journey. In these cases it is individual men who are targeted. Witness accounts describe the systematic beating of men that have been separated before the Albanian border.
According to other witness accounts men were taken to dig trenches and install military posts on the Albanian border. Most of these men were later expelled to Albania where they were reunited with their families.
It is not only men who are missing from the deported families. On arrival a number of women and children are not with their families. Among all of the accounts collected by Doctors Without Borders, only one specifically reports two young women having been taken away by the paramilitary. Another account from Belanitza describes women and children being taken away in four trucks to an unknown destination.
At the border crossing many witnesses describe the behavior of the military and police towards women in the convoys as aggressive, insulting, and obscene.
The nature of the violence inflicted on the deported Kosovar populations should influence the quality of relief aid provided.
In the context of criminal deportation, looting and destruction of the legal identity of individuals, relief actions should aim to mitigate the most harmful consequences of these crimes on individuals, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recommends:
Mass Expulsion from Kosovo
A Survey of Kosovar Refugees
at Rozaje, Montenegro
Vincent Brown, MSF/Epicentre, 4/27/99
A Summary of Results from a Random Survey of 201 Kosovar Refugee Families in Rozaje, Montenegro,
April 14-15, 1999
RESULTS Number % families
1. Description of the sample and history of deportation
Families surveyed 201 100.0%
Size of the sample = 1537
Number of people per family = 7.6
Male/Female Ratio (15-55years) = 0.88 (400/453)
Families homeless for more than 5 days 94 46.7%
Average length of exodus = 7.6 days (extremes : < 1 to 23 days)
Families from "Villages" 189 94.0%
Families who fled on foot 187 93.0%
Without Kosovar identity papers 92 45.8%
Length of stay at Rozaje > 5days 93 46.3%
Reason for departure 94 46.5%
= direct threats / armed men
2. Impact of the war
Families with> 1 member remaining in Kosovo 56 27.8%
Total for the sample = 169 people remaining in Kosovo (9.9%)
With at least one death/ war (24/03-15/04/99) 3 1.5%
A sample was established by randomly choosing participants in the three factories, Kristal, Liego-Biele, and Dekor. These sites are located in the most eastern part of Rozaje. They were chosen with the intention of evaluating the situation of the population that is considered to be "the most in need." From the outset it was decided that the survey would focus on a random sample of 150 to 200 families. The proportional distribution of the refugees among the three factories was taken into account in establishing the sample.
In order for the sample to be as representative as possible, each of the three factories was divided into ten sections (or rooms). The population of each of the 10 rooms was estimated before the draw was made.
When randomly selecting families from each room, the four teams conducting the survey (each team was made up of one MSF member and one translator speaking Albanian) followed the same procedure. The team stood in the centre of the room and chose one family at random and then proceeded with every second family counting from this initial choice. A "family" was defined as "all of the members of a closely knit group living under the same roof in Kosovo (in an apartment, or in a house)."
Table 2: Duration of exodus for 201 refugee families in three factories,
Table 3: Length of stay for 201 refugee families in three factories,
* A total of 56/201 (27.8%) families left "at least" one member behind when they left Kosovo.
* A total of 17/201 families do not have blankets, 8.5% of the sample.
Short term prospects
INTERPRETATION AND ANALYSIS OF RESULTS
2. Ensure a minimum scale of decent living conditions for refugees in exile in Montenegro:
A 27-year-old woman talks of her ordeal: "At 3 p.m., on the 31st of March, the police came into our apartment and gave us 5 minutes to leave. There were four of them, each wearing a mask. We were made to leave, leaving all our things behind. We were told to go to Dacovica, that vans would come and collect us from the town center. Only one van turned up; we had to go on foot, walking two days and a night, for about 50 km. I didn't see any dead, just a burnt-out village. Our Ids were taken from us at the border."
On April 11, 12, and 13, Kladernica and some near-by villages (Kasterc, Padalista, Rezold, Tushila, Skenderag and Rakenic) were attacked by police and soldiers; grenades were thrown and houses burnt-out. The villagers were forced to flee to Kladernica where they were all gathered together by the police on April 13. Men were separated from the women. No one knows what happened to them.
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