The commander and staff of the Swiss Company set up their headquarters in Kosovo Wednesday and joined 39,000 international KFOR troops providing security and reconstruction help in the war-ravaged Serb province.This content was published on September 29, 1999 - 16:14
The commander and staff of the Swiss Company set up their headquarters in Kosovo Wednesday and joined 39,000 international KFOR troops providing security and reconstruction help in the war-ravaged Serb province.
The 141-strong volunteer Swiss Company, known as SWISSCOY, will provide logistical support for the Austrian KFOR contingent but will not be under its direct command.
The mostly unarmed SWISSCOY – whose deployment is to be completed by October 8 – is stationed in Suva Reka, north of the town of Prizren.
The first task for the Swiss troops will be to get rid of the more than 200 illegal waste dumps that pose a serious health hazard for hundreds of people in the region.
The sewage system in Prizren is ancient and 75 percent of it has simply rotted away. Due to a lack of water purification installations, much of the sewage flows untreated into a nearby lake, close to the border with Albania.
Garbage and unsorted waste piles up high in the streets of Prizren and the local waste management authorities have been fighting a losing battle due to severe shortages – or simply the non-existence – of the necessary equipment.
Chemical waste and motor oil are also freely dumped into the streets, according to officials.
Swiss commanders say that one of the first priorities will be to get more trucks to ferry out the waste.
“We appeal to Swiss companies to help us in this respect because without transport we cannot achieve anything,” said general staff Maj. Karl-Heinz Graf.
SWISSCOY is expected to implement its comprehensive waste management concept for the next two years.
The SWISSCOY deployment marks the first time that Switzerland participates in an international military operation on an equal footing with units from other countries.
From staff and wire reports.
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