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UNHCR receives additional funds for Kosovo refugees

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UNHCR receives additional funds for Kosovo refugees

13 May 1999

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Thursday it had received new contributions to its operation to assist Kosovo refugees, following a warning earlier this week that unless it received substantial new cash, the relief programme would be disrupted.

A 20 million Euro contribution announced Wednesday by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) put UNHCR's funds for its emergency programme for the Kosovars at more than $100 million. New contributions from Canada, France and Ireland have also helped to ease the immediate cash shortfall. UNHCR had appealed for $143 million for the programme for the first six months of the year.

Until late March of this year, UNHCR had been providing assistance to more than 450,000 displaced people in Kosovo and Montenegro. After the massive exodus of refugees from Kosovo began, the focus of operations shifted to the FYR of Macedonia and Albania, as well as Montenegro.

To date, nearly 800,000 persons have fled Kosovo to neighbouring countries. 431,000 remain in Albania, 234,000 in the FYR of Macedonia and 64,000 in Montenegro, as well as 18,500 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 43,000 have been evacuated to other countries

The sweeping ethnic cleansing and expulsions from Kosovo are continuing. Trains, buses and tractor wagons from Kosovo continue to offload refugees into neighbouring areas.

While no one has died of starvation and no epidemics have broken out, conditions in the camps remain poor. Refugee camps are overcrowded, and sanitation facilities are still rudimentary. Improvement of camp conditions, and especially of sanitation. is essential as summer begins.