UNEP Press Release
For Information only
Not an official record
Jointly issued by UNEP and Habitat

Immediate Environmental Clean-Up Action Needed
as part of Humanitarian Aid
in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

GENEVA - 24 November 1999. The Joint UNEP/Habitat Balkans Task Force (BTF) co-launches an appeal with UNDP for environmental priority emergency projects, estimated at USD 17 million, as part of the OCHA consolidated inter-agency appeal 2000.

In cooperation with the UN Development Programme, BTF proposes emergency projects designed to prevent further degradation of the environment in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and diminish the serious threat to human health at four industrial sites, considered as environmental ”hot spots.” These emergency projects will be closely coordinated with donor countries, relevant UN agencies, and NGOs. They address priority needs for humanitarian assistance at Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad, and Bor.

“While the main responsibility for clean-up efforts rests with the FRY authorities,” says Mr. Pekka Haavisto, chairman of BTF, “the international community must assist in restoring dangerously polluted locations detected during the recent assessment by our expert teams.”

The BTF report “The Kosovo Conflict - Consequences for the Environment & Human Settlements” released in mid-October after careful assessment by international, independent scientists, recommends urgent remedial action at the most seriously affected locations. These include the contaminated wastewater canal which flows into the Danube at Pancevo; removal of significant quantities of toxic waste such as PCB and dioxin contamination at Kragujevac; restoration of drinking water supplies at Novi Sad; and prevention of further releases of large amounts of sulphur dioxide gas into the atmosphere at Bor.

“As part of the humanitarian aid to the region, the international community should assist the relevant authorities in dealing with the key environmental hot spots, thus avoiding further harm to human health and the environment in Yugoslavia and the wider Balkans region,” said Haavisto. “Although the Yugoslav government, which has the main responsibility for clean-up efforts, can deal with some of the priorities we’ve identified, others will require assistance from the international community.”


The final report and latest information on the work of the BTF can be accessed from the World-Wide-Web at http://www.grid.unep.ch/btf - the site contains detailed situation reports, maps and other materials.


For more information contact: Mr. Pekka Haavisto, tel.(+41-22) 917 82 54, or Mr. Henrik Slotte, tel. (+41-22) 917 85 98.


UNEP News Release 1999

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