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FYR of Macedonia: villagers fleeing to Kosovo

Briefing notes

FYR of Macedonia: villagers fleeing to Kosovo

27 February 2001

Over the past week, 383 ethnic Albanians, primarily women and children, have fled to Kosovo from a mountain village in neighbouring FYR of Macedonia, amid reports of fighting between Albanian separatists and Macedonian security forces. The villagers said more people have fled the area but have not reported yet to UNHCR's field office in Gnjilane, on the Kosovo side of the border. Those fleeing cited what they described as a heavy presence of Macedonian security forces and general tension in the area. The Macedonian government denies that it has increased military presence in the border area, instead accusing ethnic Albanian rebels operating out of Kosovo of infiltrating villages on Macedonian territory. Virtually all those who have crossed into Kosovo came from the same mountain village of Tanusevci, which they said had a total of 500 inhabitants. Only one family said they came from the nearby hamlet of Malina Mala.