Kosovo aid body appeals for return stolen computers

PRISTINA, Jul 28, 2000 -- (Reuters) An aid organization in Kosovo said on Thursday armed thieves had stolen computers containing data crucial to its humanitarian work.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) issued an appeal to the robbers to return the equipment, saying the stored information was priceless for thousands of people who needed help.

"Its loss is difference between assistance and abandonment, between autonomy and dependency, and between healing and suffering," IRC country director Richard Jacquot said.

The organization, which is based in the United States, said seven armed men wearing masks had broken into its Kosovo office early on Wednesday morning and taken away seven laptop computers worth $15,000. The two guards could not stop them.

IRC, a non-government organization, has been present in Kosovo since 1998. It has a local staff of 250 people and runs humanitarian programs, from shelter construction to education.

Crime is rife in the Yugoslav province which has been under United Nations administration since last year when a NATO bombing campaign forced Serb troops to withdraw.

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