New York/Paris, April 30, 1999 — The ongoing forced deportation of the Albanian population of Kosovo is planned, systematic, and constitutes a crime against humanity, according to a report issued today by the international medical relief agency Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The report is based on witness accounts collected from 639 Kosovar deportees in Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro and an epidemiological study carried out on 1,537 Kosovars (201 families) who arrived in Rozaje, Montenegro, on or before April 15, 1999. Teams of MSF epidemiological and legal experts investigated the characteristics of refugee families, the conditions surrounding their departures, and the fate of their family members in order to evaluate the most urgent humanitarian needs of the Kosovar deportees.
The epidemiological survey shows that 91% of the displaced Kosovars in Rozaje, Montenegro, were forced to leave their homes after direct threats or attacks by Serb policy, military, or paramilitary forces. In the majority of cases, threats and physical violence have been used to empty entire villages and towns, destroy or steal deportee homes and possessions, and confiscate identity papers. The epidemiological survey also found that the male/female ratio among refugees in Montenegro is unbalanced with a 13% lack of males in the 15-55 age group, and that 28% of families have left at least one member of the family in Kosovo.
"The witness accounts reflect a high degree of physical threats and violence against men, women, and children in Kosovo. Refugees we interviewed are clearly victims of a well-organized and carefully orchestrated forced deportation," said Joelle Tanguy, executive director of MSF.
Based on the findings in this report, MSF strongly recommends that relief efforts take into account the violence already inflicted upon the deported Kosovar population. In the context of the criminal deportation of the population of Kosovo, the international community must seek to mitigate the most harmful consequences of crimes already perpetrated on deportees by properly and systematically registering all deportees under the international authority of the UNHCR, and by carrying out only voluntary relocations of deportees.
MSF is the world's largest independent international medical relief agency aiding victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and others who lack health care due to geographic remoteness or ethnic marginalization. Each year the organization sends more than 2,000 doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, and logisticians to provide medical aid in more than 83 countries.