Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two Children Injured by Land Mine

Over the weekend in Prizren, two children were injured by a land mine.  A boy found what is believed to be an anti-personnel mine and put it in his pocket and went to play basketball.  After playing with his friends, he sat down to rest and the mine exploded.  A girl nearby was also injured in the explosion and one of the children remains in critical condition. 
I remember when I went through orientation in 2001, the UN estimated that Kosovo was 99% de-mined.  However, to this day, new fields and new ordinance continue to be found all over Kosovo despite all the efforts to remove them.  There have been occasions over the past few years that the Serbian military has given coordinates for mine fields (I recall one of the last I knew about was around two years ago on the way to Prizren) and the area de-mined.  The problem with landmines and unexploded ordinance is that they are often placed and either the location is forgotten or incorrectly recorded.

Some information has emerged about the one Kosovo lawmaker who voted against supporting Ahtisaari's plan last week.  Numan Balic, a Bosniak lawmaker, was the single dissenting voice against supporting the Ahtisaari plan stating that he does not understand why the Albanian lawmakers can give their blind support.  Balic fully supports independence but does not agree to the portions of the plan that gives special protection to the Serb population as it makes the minority equal to the majority.

Meanwhile, back in the US, several key politicians are preparing (or have prepared) a Senate resolution supporting Ahtisaari's proposal and urging Bush to increase pressure on the Security Council to adopt the proposal.  Well-known senators such as Joseph Biden and Lieberman and John McCain also want to quickly establish diplomatic ties with Kosovo.

Kosovo has also opened an informal diplomatic office in New York.  UN Security Council resolution 1244 which created the mission in Kosovo prohibits interim Kosovo institutions from opening diplomatic missions.  The opening has drawn criticism as Kosovo did not seek permission from UNMIK to open the new office.  However, Kosovo politicians are arguing that the office is an informal mission and therefore they did not need to ask permission from the UN.  The office will most likely be used to try to persuade members of the Security Council to endorse Ahtisaari's proposal.