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Poor farming families in Albania and Macedonia are supporting Kosovar refugees: FAO launches international appeals

Kosovar refugees in Kukes, Albania (above and below)
WFP/Tom Haskell

The crisis in Kosovo has led to the unprecedented exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries. FAO assessment missions to Albania and Macedonia have found that poor farming families in both countries are hosting thousands of Kosovar refugees.

The missions estimate that around 12 000 rural families in Albania and more than 8 000 families in Macedonia are providing food and shelter to an estimated 160 000 refugees. The host families urgently need agricultural assistance in order to maintain their food production capacity.

FAO has launched an appeal to donor governments for $5.5 million for emergency aid to Albania and $3.5 million to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This assistance is essential to ensure that farmers do not miss the 1999 agricultural seasons and to avoid a further deterioration of food supplies.

In Albania, more than 100 000 Kosovar refugees are being hosted by farming families. On average, an Albanian family supports eight, and in some cases as many as 40 refugees.

The host families are using their own money and limited food reserves to meet the essential needs of the refugees. Money spent for the support of refugees will not be available for much needed agricultural inputs. This will have serious consequences for the farmers during 1999, when seed, fertilizer and animal feed must be bought.


GIEWS Special Alert:
Kosovo crisis poses food security threat for rural households in Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia


Emergency aid by FAO should ensure that host families continue farming and, if possible, increase their food and livestock production. The Organization is already providing maize seeds that can still be planted this spring, and is calling for the immediate supply of fertilizers, animal feed and backyard poultry for the 12 000 host families. International support will also be needed for the supply of wheat seeds to be planted in autumn.

In Macedonia, rural families are hosting between 60 000 and 100 000 Kosovar refugees. As an immediate measure, FAO is providing, through its Special Relief Operations Service, seed potatoes and maize seeds worth US$400 000 and fertilizer worth US$50 000. Around $3.5 million is urgently needed for the supply of seeds, fertilizers, laying hens, poultry feed and dairy cow rations.

While the immediate priority is to support the hosting families in Albania and Macedonia who have stretched their own resources to the limit, FAO is also working on contingency plans to support the return of the Kosovars once conditions permit.

4 May 1999

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