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FYR of Macedonia: packed train arrives at border

Briefing notes

FYR of Macedonia: packed train arrives at border

18 May 1999

A train from Kosovo with an estimated 1,000 refugees on board arrived at the Macedonian border this morning and unlike yesterday all the passengers were allowed to disembark.

On Monday, the Serbs turned back a packed five car train from Kosovo Polje, after allowing only ten pensioners to get off. The train carried up to 2,000 people from the Kosovo Polje, Urosevac and Kacanik areas.

The few people who were allowed to disembark told UNHCR that the situation was grim in the Smira area near Vitina. They alleged that all the flour that arrives in the village is given to the local Serbs. They said there were reportedly more than 50,000 people waiting in the area around Vitina, trying to get out. Refugees say every time NATO bombs the military leave their weapons depots and move closer to civilian areas. Refugees allege that Yugoslav troops conceal their weaponry in farm houses and their tanks inside barns, basically hiding amid the civilian population.

106 of the Kosovo Albanian men who were detained by the Yugoslav Federal Army in Montenegro near the Albanian border on Saturday were released Monday afternoon after being taken to Tutin (Serbia), just west of Montenegro and back to Rozaje in Montenegro. 45 of them have requested transport to Ulcinj on the Adriatic coast. The rest will remain in Rozaje with their families. It is not clear why the men where released and, more importantly, whether all those detained were freed. UNHCR welcomes the release but remain concerned about those who may be still held.