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Kosovo: latest Albania arrivals in bad shape

Briefing notes

Kosovo: latest Albania arrivals in bad shape

6 April 1999

New arrivals at Morini and Qafa Prushit in northern Albania are estimated to have been 40,000 from Monday morning 5 April to Tuesday morning 6 April, and the influx continues. 15,000 came through Qafa Prushit, the rest though Morini. Estimated total arrivals to date of 262,000.

There is a big queue of cars plus people walking at Morini, coming from everywhere. They come by car and are dropped by bus at a distance from the border. Some from Pristina, some from Kosovska Mitrovica, Glogovac.

At Qafa Prushuit yesterday 15,000 came through on foot in very, very bad shape. Refugees came from Djakovica. They allege Arkan's (Zeljko Raznatovic's) paramilitary forces are in Djakovica area and the refugees report the situation to be terrible. Men are missing from the influx at Qafa Prushit and refugees recount stories of men shot in front of their families and tortured.

The situation at Qafa Prushit border crossing is tense. Serbian police are just opposite the Albanian border post, and have warned that they will shoot at press who approach, that aid workers should pull back 500 metres from the border. There have been no incidents tension runs high.

The relief operation is gathering momentum. Yesterday, 60 mt of food came to Kukes by truck and by helicopter - 30 mt by helicopter, 30 mt by truck. The US is flying in six aircraft into Tirana today with humanitarian daily rations.

4 cases of measles have been reported in the north of Albania. Vaccines will be brought in, in the next 24 hrs. Have ordered 200,000 doses of measles vaccine, and will start big vaccination campaign at border with all medical agencies (MDM, MSF).

In Macedonia, the situation at the border is still critical. 5000 people have been transferred from the no man's land at the border to the transit centre built with NATO's help but some sixty thousand still remain at the border in dismal conditions. UNHCR has urged the Macedonian government to speed up the transfer of refugees away from the border.

1350 people have been flown to Turkey on Macedonian charter aircraft Monday. Another 1450 will follow today. UNHCR is sending a registration team to Skopje airport tomorrow to ensure proper registration, family unity and voluntaries of departures. 90 sick, elderly and vulnerable people were flown out yesterday on a Norwegian C-130.