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Kosovo: emergency relief effort mounted

Briefing notes

Kosovo: emergency relief effort mounted

29 March 1999

UNHCR is mounting an emergency relief effort as exhausted and frightened Kosovo refugees continue to stream into Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro. Well over 80,000 people have fled Kosovo since the NATO air raids began. There are tens of thousands more en route. UNHCR is bracing up for the possible arrival of hundreds of thousands. The border with Albania was closed during the night but the flow is expected to resume shortly. To date, the Kosovo conflict has driven well over half a million people from their homes and this already staggering number is growing by the hour.

The Albanian government has been moving refugees from Kosovo from the extremely poor north to the more affluent south, putting them up with host families.

The UK Department For International Development (DFID) has offered an IL76 cargo jet which will airlift tents and blankets from the UK to Tirana today. The plane will then shuttle between Copenhagen and Tirana, bringing supplies into Albania which bears the brunt of the refugee exodus. The airlift may have to be expanded. UNHCR is putting more staff on the ground with an emergency team arriving in Albania from Geneva today and staff being moved to Albania from other countries of the region.