17 March 2006

Serbs in Central Kosovo and Enclaves without Electricity

KIM Info Newsletter, 25-01-06


Kosovska Mitrovica, January 24, 2006

In the region of central Kosovo and in Metohija, where temperatures have been 17 degrees below zero (Celsius) for the third day, in the municipality of Lipljan five Serb villages have been completely without power for the past week. Moreover, in the largest and smallest Serb enclaves, Strpce and Gorazdevac, respectively, Serb households have not had electricity for the past 50 hours, sources confirmed for the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija's International Press Center in Kosovska Mitrovica.

A part of Lipljan, Novo Naselje and the villages of Skulanovo, Suvi Do, Lepina and Radevo, with a total population of some 4,000 Serbs, have been without power for the past 24 hours. As a result of the fact that most of these people use pumped water, in addition to the lack of electricity there is also a lack of water.

The difficult situation is further exacerbated by the Kosovo Electrical Energy Cooperation (KEK) and UNMIK, which are applying perifidious pressure on the Serbs to sign contracts with KEK, offering them very favorable terms in order to convince them to give up on their request that the Serbian Power Company (EPS) provide electrical power in locations where Serbs are living. According to locals, the situation is even worse as a result of the fact that the KEK removed two good transformers and installed them in Urosevac, replacing them with two bad ones, which broke down.

Gorazdevac, where there are 230 Serb houses and 900 residents, 200 of them children, has been repeatedly exposed to power blackouts since last week.

Until two days ago the village had electricity according to the schedule of four hours on, four hours off but as of this morning it has been completely without power for the past 50 hours, local residents of Gorazdevac confirmed.

The village is in a relatively privileged position in that the long-distance power lines to Pec pass directly over its houses; however, the three transformer stations in the village are controlled by Albanian employees of the KEK.

"They turn the power off or on depending on who among them is a bigger or smaller nationalist," say the locals.

For the past ten days Strpce has had electricity for only four out of 24 hours. It is very cold and the village of Strpce itself has 60 cm of snow while there is almost a meter on Mt. Brezovica.

The locals say that all of the Serb villages in the enclaves are without power, whereas the town of Urosevac, which can be seen from the higher elevations of Brezovica, has electricity.

Severe restrictions are also in effect in the area of central Kosovo, in Gracanica, Orahovac and Velika Hoca.

Power is shut off for four hours after every two hours on but the "emergency blackouts" are regular, especially during the last 48 hours when temperatures have dropped to an average of 15 degrees below zero (Celsius).

The director of Telecom for Kosovo and Metohija Ilija Ivanovic confirmed that mobile phones with prefixes 063 and 064 are working with the exception of the immediate area around the village of Ugljare, where a cable was cut last week.

Power generators are running but in areas such as Lipljan, Orahovac, Velika Hoca and Gorazdevac, where there has not been any power for some time, the 063 and 064 networks are functioning with difficulty.

Section for media and communications