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More refugees swarm borders

A total of 6,000 Kosovo Albanians fleeing Serbia crossed the Macedonian border on Friday, said Paula Ghedini, spokeswoman for the UN High...

A total of 6,000 Kosovo Albanians fleeing Serbia crossed the Macedonian border on Friday, said Paula Ghedini, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. About 3,000 crossed at the Blace border post, 20 kilometres north of Skopje while an additional 3,000, mostly from the towns of Gnjilane and Urosevac, crossed over at Jaznice, some 30 kilometres north-east of Tetovo.

The majority of the refugees at Blace, however, were from Urosevac, an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies spokesman said. The refugees arrived by a train that had been turned back by Serbian police on Thursday as it reached the town of Djeneral Jankovic, on the Yugoslav side of the border.

Earlier, on Thursday, about 9,000 Kosovo Albanians reached Macedonia and Albania through three border crossings, according to the UNHCR.

“We have to plan for a possible influx of more refugees,” said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond, adding that the UNHCR was considering a possible expansion of the camps. “Right nowwe still have room in the existing camps,” he added. Redmond said more tents had been put up in the Brazda-Stenkovec complex, where some 30,000 Kosovo Albanians are already being put up, raising the capacity by 15,000 more. Currently, there are 118,400 Kosovo Albanian refugees in Macedonia alone.

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Across the Atlantic, in Roseville, Michigan, President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary appealed to Americans on Friday to send aid to Kosovo refugees, as a new wave of ethnic Albanians fled Serb assaults on the province.

“It is very important for Americans to re-examine what it means to be a good citizen,” Clinton said at a fundraiser. The President was to meet later with members of Michigan’s large Albanian-American community and humanitarian relief organisations. Also on Friday, the First Lady launched a television advertising campaign featuring footage of the hungry, cold ethnic Albanians and harried relief workers ministering to their needs.

Clinton is to submit an emergency request to Congress incoming days to defray the costs of the US involvement in the NATO Air campaign and contribute to the humanitarian effort. The New York Times reported the request would touch some $5.9 billion. The US, which has provided $150 million in Kosovo refugee relief to date, expects to pay 25 percent of the total refugee-related costs, officials said.

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Clinton has not yet come up with a promised plan to deliver aid those still inside Kosovo as air-drops remained highly difficult as NATO planes would have to fly at low-altitude and slow speed, making them vulnerable to Serb attack.

In London, on the other hand, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook directed a senior Foreign Office official to gather evidence of alleged war crimes committed in Kosovo for the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

First published on: 18-04-1999 at 12:00:00 am
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