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Albania/FYR of Macedonia: latest Kosovar arrivals

Briefing notes

Albania/FYR of Macedonia: latest Kosovar arrivals

11 May 1999

There were over 3,600 new arrivals from Kosovo in northern Albania on Monday (10 May) while for the fifth day running, virtually no refugees crossed into the FYR of Macedonia. The last significant arrivals in the FYR of Macedonia were on Wednesday 5 May. On that date, 2000 refugees arrived in the afternoon and another 1000 in evening, but who were not permitted to enter.

In a bizarre twist, however, trains continue to arrive at Blace, at the border between Kosovo and the FYR of Macedonia, carrying a few hundred people each time. A train arrived on Sunday and again on Monday. These trains let off just a few people and then travel back into Kosovo full. One of the handful of people let off yesterday said that people who were sent back also had to pay for the return trip.

UNHCR's humanitarian evacuation programme from the FYR of Macedonia yesterday brought refugees for the first time to Albania. Buses carried 139 refugees who volunteered for transfer to Albania. All had family members in Albania whom they wanted to join. The buses took them initially to a camp at Qatrum, near Korca. UNHCR staff in the FYR of Macedonia are planning to take refugee leaders from the camps in the FYR of Macedonia on "look and see" visits to Albania.

In Albania: UNHCR is redoubling its efforts to persuade refugees staying in the Kukes area of northern Albania to move to other parts of the country. An information campaign will fan out to all camps, explaining once again to the refugees that this area is not considered safe, and that arrangements to receive them in other parts of he country are in place. UNHCR hopes that large scale movements out of the Kukes camps to safer and more accessible parts of the country will start by the end of this week.