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FYR Macedonia: 22,000+ have fled

Briefing notes

FYR Macedonia: 22,000+ have fled

23 March 2001

More than 22,000 Macedonians are now estimated to have left their homes since fighting began in the Tetovo region last week. Most of them - some 14,200, according to the latest Red Cross figures - have gone to other parts of FYR Macedonia. An estimated 3,600 have gone to Turkey, 1,800 to Albania, 1,400 to Serbia and Montenegro, 1,100 to Kosovo and 300 to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Those leaving are both Macedonian and ethnic Albanian.

The vast majority of those who left their homes did so as a precautionary measure - usually citing concerns over the safety of their children - and are staying with friends and relatives. There have been very few requests for humanitarian assistance. In FYR Macedonia, UNHCR is providing assistance to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy to help prepare accommodation centres in case they are needed. Emergency stocks are in place should they be required.

Most of those arriving in Kosovo are coming via Albania, although at least 40 people arrived in the town of Prizren on Wednesday night after a 10-hour trek through the mountains. They said they were fleeing fighting in the village of Shipkovica, north-west of Tetovo. They were transported to the town of Prizren, where they are now staying with host families. UNHCR is now monitoring the Morina border crossing between Albania and Kosovo 24-hours a day.

UNHCR's team in southern Serbia reported that more than 33 buses carrying Macedonian citizens of all ethnic backgrounds had crossed the border to travel onwards to Croatia and Bosnia. Some of these new arrivals remained with family and friends inside Serbia and others travelled on into Kosovo.