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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: thousands on the move

Briefing Notes, 20 March 2001

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 20 March 2001, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Several thousand people are on the move in and around the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia following clashes between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian separatists. Over the past six days, more than 2,300 ethnic Albanians have crossed the border from FYR Macedonia to Albania a tenfold increase from the usual number of crossings, according to Albanian authorities. Nearly half of them merely transited Albanian territory and entered Kosovo. They appear to be leaving Macedonia as a precautionary measure. So far, none of them has asked for aid, as they seem to rely on a network of extended family and friends. At the same time, UNHCR estimates some 1,400 people, predominantly ethnic Albanians but also Macedonian Slavs, have crossed from Macedonia to southern Serbia in buses and private vehicles. Most say they do not intend to stay in Serbia, but instead are headed for Bosnia and Croatia. There has also been a movement of people within Macedonia. The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent has registered a total of 3,700 people internally displaced within Macedonia. Most were registered in Macedonia's capital, Skopje. UNHCR continues to be extremely concerned about the situation.



The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward JourneyPlay video

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Refugees Onward Journey

A transit centre at Vinojug, on FYR Macedonia's border with Greece is where the refugees and migrants pass through on their journey further into Europe. Here UNHCR and partner organisations provide food, water, medical care, psycho-social support and information for refugees who take the train towards the border with Serbia. UNHCR also provides information on how to access the asylum system in the country. In recent weeks, an average of 6,300 refugees pass through the camp every day, yesterday that number grew to 10,000, a record.
FYR Macedonia: Volunteers At HandPlay video

FYR Macedonia: Volunteers At Hand

Almost 300,000 refugees and migrants have passed through the Gevgelija transit center in the former Yusgoslav Republic of Macedonia, on their way to the EU since it was setup less than two months ago.
Serbia: Overstretched BordersPlay video

Serbia: Overstretched Borders

As Hungary builds a fence on its border with Serbia, the situation at the border between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece is increasingly precarious. Refugees in Serbia on their way to Hungry fear the tighter measures and say they wouldn't have fled home had they not been forced to do it by the war.