Peacekeepers 'stood by as Kosovo mob burnt homes'

Nato forces and United Nations police in Kosovo were responsible for a "catastrophic" failure to protect minority communities during the upsurge of violence earlier this year, a report claimed yesterday.

Nato forces and United Nations police in Kosovo were responsible for a "catastrophic" failure to protect minority communities during the upsurge of violence earlier this year, a report claimed yesterday.

Human Rights Watch said there was a "near complete collapse" of security, allowing gangs of Albanians to drive Serbs, Roma and Ashkali (Albanian-speaking Roma) from their homes in the Yugoslav province.

The report, based on interviews with officials and victims, describes how, time after time, heavily armed soldiers of the Nato-led K-For stayed in their barracks as Serb homes were burnt and looted. Relief, when it did arrive, was often too little, too late, leading to a new status quo in which displaced communities found it impossible to return home.

In the village of Svinjare, a mob of armed Albanians marched past the main French K-For base before burning all of the 137 Serbian homes. The Nato troops stayed in their barracks watching buildings just a few hundred metres from their base go up in flames.

In nearby Vucitrn, French K-For soldiers failed to intervene while Albanian gangs set fire to 69 Ashkali homes, just 10 minutes' drive from the military base.

At Prizren, in the south-east, German K-For troops failed to protect the Serb population and the historic Orthodox churches and monasteries despite repeated and frantic calls for assistance from German UN police in the town.

The entire village of Belo Polje was burnt to the ground by the mob. This time it was Italian K-For troops who locked the gates of an adjacent base.

Even in the capital, Pristina, Serbian civilians had to barricade themselves into the upper floor of an apartment block, while Albanian gunmen shot out the windows from the streets and looted the flats below. It took K-For and the UN police more than six hours to come to their aid.

On 17 March, the report said, 33 separate riots broke out over a period of 48 hours involving more than 50,000 Albanians. Nineteen people were killed, 4,100 people were displaced from their homes, and at least 550 homes and 27 Orthodox churches were destroyed.

Among the catalysts for the violence were reports that a group of Serbs with dogs had driven three Albanian boys to their deaths in a river; the blocking of the main road from Pristina to Skopje by Serbs after the shooting of a Serb teenager; and a march by veterans of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army protesting at the arrest of former KLA leaders on war crimes charges.

Human Rights Watch concluded: "This was the biggest test for Nato and the United Nations in Kosovo since 1999, when minorities were forced from their homes as the international community looked on.

"They failed the test. In too many cases, Nato peacekeepers locked the gates to their bases and watched as Serb homes burnt."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker