Promoting tolerance and facilitating dialogue across the region, UNMIK’s Office of Community Support and Facilitation (OCSF) monitors and reports on issues and concerns relevant to all communities in Kosovo.
To this end, OCSF dispatches experienced staff to 34 municipalities south of the Iber/Ibar river, with a focus on minority community locales, displacement and returns areas, as well as religious and cultural sites. Working through an active network of community-based partners and interlocutors, OCSF operates from two hubs- Pristina and Peje/Pec, encouraging direct interaction and resolution of issues between individuals and local entities.
OCSF team members are often tasked with critically interfacing between communities, local authorities, and utility companies to deliver essential services at the local level. “We offer support in our capacity,” said OCSF Programme Assistant Xhavit Fejza.
“Today we are visiting IDP camps in Gracanica,” announced OCSF Political Affairs Officer Joe Xi Chen. The first AOR destination was “Bergen”, an IDP Collective Center in the village of Uglar/Ugljare that hosts 17 Kosovo Serb families residing in buildings and containers. OCSF reports that the main issues experienced by Bergen inhabitants include electricity shortages, infrastructure shortcomings, and lack of social assistance from both Kosovo and Serbian Governments. This was exemplified by the bloated, deteriorating containers utilized by residents as living quarters or common areas to congregate and prepare meals for their families.
A Kosovar Albanian woman, who has been living in the Center for approximately two years with her Serbian husband and children, was available to provide the OCSF team with an update on the situation in Bergen and her dissatisfaction with the insufficient provisions offered by governmental institutions. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your visit,” she said. “It’s nice to know people are still thinking of me.”
“We come by as often as we receive information from community leaders on problems they might experience with food or firewood supplies, or with electricity or water disconnections," affirmed Chen.
In many cases, local authorities and utility companies are helpful and responsive. Most of the current problems are solved through mediation and facilitation.
In another IDP Center in Graçanicë/Gračanica called “Vocar”, an elderly resident was happy to receive a visit by OCSF staff. “Are you warm enough?” asked Chen, who later said that OCSF staff arranged to have the roof of her container fixed after she told them she felt a draft. “I’m fine, thank you,” she responded.
Andrea Young - Photo: DPI / Shpend Bërbatovci