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FYR of Macedonia: Serbs now requiring passports for exit

Briefing notes

FYR of Macedonia: Serbs now requiring passports for exit

1 June 1999

In a fresh policy shift, the Serbs have now started allowing only people who have valid passports to cross into the FYR of Macedonia. No immediate explanation is available for the sudden change in policy. On Monday 64 refugees from Gnjilane were prevented from entering the FYR of Macedonia because they did not have valid passports.

Only 16 people got through at Jazince during the day. a few were coming in through Blace but not too many. Even with passports refugees have to pay money according to one man who came in with a passport.

There were also people who arrived through the hills around Jazince after a 30-hour trek. They turned up at Odri - the first village when they come down from the mountains. A total of some 330 people reached the FYR of Macedonia mostly through the mountains on Monday.

UNHCR has been making every effort to buy supplies locally in the FYR of Macedonia to help the country's ailing economy. We and our partner agencies spent $15 million locally between 1 April and 31 May. This excludes food purchases by the World Food Programme but it includes payroll for local staff and other goods and services. It also includes $3.5 million paid to the government for construction of camps, including $1 million to the Ministry of Urban Planning. Also, UNHCR has a new programme in the camps through the Ministry of Labour under which we have hired 250 Macedonians to work in the camps.