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UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME

JOINT UNEP/UNCHS TASK FORCE ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS IN THE BALKANS

MISSION TO THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA

JUNE 1999

Summary

The joint UNEP/UNCHS Balkans Task Force (BTF) team visited Belgrade, Nis and Montenegro and was hosted by the Yugoslavian Federal Ministry of Development, Science and Environment. During this visit the team established direct contacts with relevant national authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN representatives and many individual specialists. The team developed practical cooperation related to the independent assessment of environmental consequences of the conflict and to the integration of environmental concerns into future reconstruction and development.

The team held fruitful discussions with the Federal Minister of Development, Science and Environment, with senior officials from the Institute of Public Health of Belgrade, the Faculty of Biology of Belgrade University, the Serbian Ministry of Science and Technology, the Mayor of Nis, the leader of "Focus" and the Regional Coordinator for United Nations Assistance in the Balkans as well as the UNHCR sub-office in Podgorica, Montenegro, and other officials. The team visited the petrochemical complex and oil refinery in Pancevo and a refugee camp.

The team received information on toxic substances released into the environment as a result of military actions. It noted acute air pollution, surface water pollution on the Danube and serious soil and underground water pollution. The team saw major problems related to the damaged and destroyed oil refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants and power stations. The most important "hot spots" include the Danube river and industrial sites in Pancevo, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Prahovo, Nis and possibly Baric.

The national government is in the process of assessing environmental impacts on 140 targeted sites and 4000 human settlements and will share its findings with the BTF team. Urgent international technical assistance and advice on immediate response measures are needed.

Recommendations

  • Independent assessment teams under the auspices of UNEP and UNCHS should be sent to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
  • The international community should provide special equipment for continued monitoring of air, soil, surface and underground water.
  • Decontamination, clean-up projects and long-term monitoring programmes should follow.
  • Close contacts with the European Commission, the World Bank and other partners should be further developed and maintained.

Visited Sites
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