Kosovo and Montenegro

In February 1998, Serb police started attacking villages inhabited by ethnic Albanians. By the end of March 1999, as many as 300,000 Kosovars had been driven out of their homes. When the NATO attacks started in late March 1999, MSF was present in Kosovo, where teams were running a mobile medical programme for the displaced. Another team was also in the throes of launching a mental health programme for this group of people. MSF's mobile teams were assisting the displaced during most of 1998. However, in September and August, the attacks intensified and MSF stepped up its activities for hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians fleeing police attacks.

The aid community in Kosovo ran 23 mobile clinics to cover half the population, with visits to villages every two weeks. MSF continued to donate medicine to ambulantas (basic health posts). When war was declared, MSF teams were forced to evacuate for security reasons but launched programmes for the deportees in Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.

In April 1999, MSF published a report describing the deportation process and how the identity cards and belongings of the Kosovars were being systematically destroyed. The report also included witness testimony from the ethnic Albanians arriving in Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.

During the ethnic cleansing in the spring of 1999, an estimated 65,000 Kosovars were deported to Montenegro. Some were taken in by Montenegran families, others went to live in displaced camp.

MSF provided assistance to between 15,000 and 20,000 in Rozaje and 13,000 in Ulcinje. MSF activities included the setting up of shelters, rehabilitation and installation of water points, distribution of relief supplies including food rations for the collective centres, support to health structures and the collection of witness testimony. Later on, MSF participated in the setting up of displaced camps in Ulcinje.