Crisis in K. Serb enclaves; Belgrade seeks WHO help

BELGRADE -- Belgrade has demanded assistance from the World Health Organization over a crisis in Kosovo.

A shipment of medicines and medical supplies, worth RSD 3.5mn, has been confiscated by the Kosovo Albanians and UNMIK in the province as it reached Kosovska Mitrovica.

It was destined for the isolated Serb enclaves, where hospital officials are now warning they are running out of medicines.

Health Minister Tomica Milosavljević has reacted today by saying the government will ask the WHO to intervene.

The representatives of the UN mission in the province, UNMIK, said they "will not comment" on the increasingly difficult circumstances in hospitals and dispensaries in Gračanica.

But their spokeswoman called on "observation of legal rules", i.e., a permit from a drug agency the Kosovo Albanians have set up.

Although UNMIK is not taking responsibility for the situation, Milosavljević believes the problem could be solved once this mission cooperates with the WHO.

"I hope we will resolve this problem in the coming days. It is necessary for the health institutions to be supplied. This is a problem of several years, it did not spring up yesterday. Now it's been raised to a different level, that is, in fact, a political manipulation," Milosavljević, of G17 Plus, said.

He added the government will be notified about his ministry's action, and that he expected it to work to solve the issue supply of Kosovo Serbs with medicines and medical material in the long-term.

Meantime, reports from the enclaves, which depend on UNMIK and KFOR for their supply routes and safety, say that the situation in hospitals is becoming "alarming".

Gračanica hospital center, KBC, director Stojan Sekulić says only emergency cases are admitted due to a lack of medical supplies.

"I don't know for how long we will have the medicines, we only treat cardiology, neuropsychiatry, surgery, gynecology and pediatric emergencies," he said.

Sekilić added the crisis was "politically generated".

"They [Albanians] are seeking recognition of the fake state of Kosovo, but us employed here at the KBC will never recognize a self-proclaimed state. Denying someone the right to medical treatment is the worst violation of human rights," he added.