According to the data provided by the Forum of Non-Governmental Organisations from Kraljevo, the Kraljevo community, which is the largest one in Serbia, has the population of 123.000, while the city of Kraljevo itself has about 70.000 inhabitants. There are 11.000 unemployed people (which makes 25% of the working age population), and 10.000 people on forced leaves.
According to the Municipal Commissioner for Refugees, there are officially 20.000 refugees and displaced persons in the territory of the Kraljevo municipality, and 30.000 unofficially. The figure comprises 4.000 refugees from Bosnia and Croatia and 15.000 displaced persons from Kosovo, who started arriving since the middle of June. The unofficial number is 25.000, which makes about 25% of the entire municipalitys population and the highest percentage in Serbia.
Out of 15.000 displaced persons from Kosovo, registered with the Municipal Commissioner for Refugees, 13.500 have been accommodated by private means (in rented apartments, with relatives, etc.).
About 1.500 are placed in 11 collective centres mostly village schools and cultural centres, as well as shacks. These collective centres are situated in the following suburbs and villages:
Cibukovac, Rocevici, Lazac, Ladjevci, Adrani, Sirca, Beranovac, Ratina, Vrba, Dragosinjci, Bukovica, Musina Reka and Mrsac.
Living conditions in the centres are extremely difficult due to the lack of toilets, beds, mattresses, blankets, personal hygiene items, medicines, health care and proper nutrition, with one hot meal a day
However, the number of applications for this kind of accommodation has increased, indicating the exhaustion of private funds for rent and food.
There are 5.000 pre-school and school children from Kosovo, out of which 600 in collective centres. According to the data from the Assembly of the Municipality of Kraljevo, there are 3.000 primary-school children and 1.000 secondary-school children from Kosovo.
Not until 26 August did the Ministry for Education of the Republic of Serbia amend its decision according to which displaced children from Kosovo (except for the children whose parents work with the police, army or judiciary) had not been allowed to go to school outside Kosovo.
It was already 31 August when the Chief-of-Staff of Municipal Headquarters for Civil Defence in Kraljevo received the instruction for the enrollment of children from Kosovo. The instruction does not explain where to place 3.000 children, the accommodation of which would require 7 entire schools. Also, secondary-school children from Kosovo can enroll classes for future smelters and blacksmiths only.
According to President of the Executive Board of Kraljevo Municipal Assembly, Mr. Zvonko Obradovic, on 30 August District Headquarters for Civil Defence issued the oral order (there is no written evidence) for schools in Kraljevo municipality to be vacated, since the school year in Serbia starts on 1 September. The order has been put into effect by Chief-of-Staff of District Headquarters, Mr. Milan Majstorovic, Commander of District Headquarters, Mr. Mirko Rajicic, and the police.
Displaced persons are offered alternative accommodation in shacks dozens of kilometres away from the city, with living conditions even worse than in previous centres (there is no electricity, water and heating). Having been evicted from school buildings in the villages of Ladjevci and Sirca, 220 persons spent two days (30 and 31 August) in two city parks in the rain. Sixty percent of these people are children and old persons.
After the report on the local TV, they were taken to the building which had been used for laundry in the near-by spa, Mataruska banja.
The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Anti-War Action
visited this location on 2 September, bringing a quantity of milk, food, medicines and hygiene items, and being told that no authorities or organisation had visited them before.
The building lacks beds, mattresses, toilets and heating, its ground floor being without electricity as well. Rooms are overcrowded, and people are afraid of diseases due to extremely poor hygiene conditions. Thus some 20 persons sleep outside, under the eaves and in tractor-trailers.
Babies lack diapers and milk since the daily meal provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees through its Field Office Kraljevo and distributed by Red Cross consists of rise or noodles, with half a loaf of bread per person.
Also weather conditions have deteriorated, with temperatures drop and heavy rain, which leaves these people without proper clothing. There is a question of schoolbooks and other material that school children need as well.
The Belgrade Centre and the Centre for Anti-War Action also had a meeting with the municipal government officials, including the President of the Executive Board, Mr. Zvonko Obradovic, and the Chief-of-Staff for Social Activities, Mr. Branko Marusic.
They presented the situation in the Kraljevo community, stating the following:
This community has 140.000 inhabitants, while the city of Kraljevo with its suburbs has the population of 80.000. There are over 12.000 unemployed people, and out of 25.000 formally employed two thirds are on paid or unpaid leaves.
During the NATO intervention 23.000 men were mobilised. Forty-one were killed and over 100 remained invalids. Sixty-five citizens were injured. Three bridges were destroyed and 2.100 houses damaged, with the overall damage estimated at DEM 11 million.
Such economic situation was further aggravated by floods in July: 10 bridges fell down, 4 schools lost its roofs, and 40% of the territory was flooded damage totalled almost DEM 1 million.
When people from Kosovo started arriving, the International Committee of Red Cross, UNHCR and some other humanitarian organisations immediately sent tents and other humanitarian aid, which ended up in the local Red Cross, or was transferred to another location.
As Mr. Obradovic explained, the issue of internally displaced persons is under the jurisdiction of the Headquarters for Civil Defence of the Republic of Serbia, which functions through its district headquarters.
The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the Centre for Anti-War Action visited the UNHCR Field Office Kraljevo as well, where Community Services Assistant, Ms. Marijana Pavlovic explained that this organisation can provide its help for IDPs in terms of accommodation facilitating if the municipal authorities provide a building or a building site and employment for one person per family.
Regarding food distribution by Red Cross, their monitoring is based on occasional and random visits to a collective centre.
This dramatic situation does not provoke reactions. Local population supports the vacation of village schools and does not allow these people from Kosovo to enter cultural centres. Mostly, they refuse to provide any other kind of help either.
With the approaching winter and expected electricity reduction, and given the fact that municipal authorities will be unable to solve the problem, a humanitarian catastrophe can be predicted, unless immediate steps are taken for this situation to be solved.
Wednesday, 8 September, 1999.
The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the NGO Forum of Kraljevo report that today at 8 a.m. 350 Kosovo refugees (IDPs), about 80 families, were expelled from the elementary school Vuk Karadzic in the village of Beranovac, near Kraljevo. Those people were located from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m in the town park in front of the Kraljevo railway station.
The Civil Defense Headquarters of the Republic of Serbia offered them accommodation in the Culture Centre of the Vitanovac village.
The associates of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the NGO Forum of Kraljevo have seen this building which does not have a roof, water supply nor the electricity, glass windows or toilets and on those grounds remains an entirely unacceptable accommodation.
After the refugees decided to head for Belgrade on their tractors they were stopped and the action was prohibited by the police and the Civil Defense Headquarters of the Republic of Serbia. The refugees (IDPs) were ordered to remain in Kraljevo. At this time all of those people are on the road under a viaduct in Kraljevo.