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Balkans Task Force (BTF)
Situation Report No. 4

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Tuesday, 18 May 1999
Overview
  • Under the aegis of the joint "Focus" humanitarian relief programme of the Russian Federation, Greece and Switzerland, set up on 28 April, a team of ecology/environment experts is being dispatched to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in the coming days. Two "Focus" humanitarian convoys have already gone to Pristina and Nis in FRY.

  • An international workshop organized by UNDP/GEF and supported by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) in Hernstein/Austria on 12-16 May on the Danube Pollution Reduction Programme discussed the evaluation of water pollution and environmental damages caused by the war in FRY. The participants were officials from ICPDR, all Danube countries, UN Organizations (including UNEP), GEF and WWF.

  • The estimated number of refugees and displaced people in the overall region affected is now 742’800, including 433’000 in Albania, 226’500 in the FRY of Macedonia and 63’300 in Montenegro as of 18 May.

Major Developments
Air
  • The Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) reported that a huge black cloud which billowed up after NATO strikes on FRY’s Prahovo River port and uranium and copper mine at Bor was heading northeast towards Romania on 15 May. The cloud was six to seven kilometers long, according to the head of the Environment Ministry’s laboratory in Bregovo, northwest Bulgaria. Villagers near the Romanian border reportedly saw the mushroom-shaped cloud at high altitude. Due to high winds, however, the cloud did not enter Bulgarian airspace, but instead drifted into Romanian airspace.1

  • Bulgarian Environmental Ministry aerosol tests from the Treklyano area indicate there has been no change in the content of uranium or other toxic substances in the atmosphere since military operations started.2

1. AFP, Agence France Presse, 5/15/99.
2. BTA, Bulgarian News Agency, 5/17/99
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