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Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK

World: Europe

First Lady visits refugees

A combined KLA and US flag at a refugee camp

President Clinton's wife, Hillary, has been visiting Kosovo refugee camps in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Kosovo: Special Report
America's First Lady said after touring the Stenkovec camp near the capital, Skopje, that the US and its allies would not abandon the refugees.

"I want to send a message to the refugees that we do not intend to let the evil which Milosevic perpetrated against these people keep them away from their homeland and their homes," Mrs Clinton said.

The BBC's Orla Guerin: "The clock cannot be turned back, but for some, Mrs Clinton's visit brought a moment of hope"
"That is a very basic, fundamental commitment that is shared not only by those in the US who are committed to this effort but our allies as well," she said.

BBC Correspondent in Macedonia Jim Fish says the visit is an important gesture for the Americans and a way of reminding Americans of the huge humanitarian crisis.

The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also announced his intention to visit refugee camps next week.

(Click here to see a map of refugee movements to date)

Red Cross returns

The International Red Cross is going back to Kosovo for the first time since the start of the Nato bombing campaign.

[ image: The president's wife is meeting refugees on her one-day visit to Macedonia]
The president's wife is meeting refugees on her one-day visit to Macedonia
A small team of officials has left Belgrade to drive to the Kosovo capital, Pristina, with two trucks carrying emergency supplies.

They said their main task would be to find out what was needed in Kosovo and to assess the state of the roads there with a view to bringing in larger convoys.

The team has no military escort, but the BBC Correspondent in Geneva, Claire Doole, says the Red Cross has had verbal assurances from President Milosovic that it will be protected from attack.

The BBC's Jim Fish: "Mrs Clinton has promised the refugees she met that Nato were doing all in its power to return them home"
A United Nations fact-finding mission is also expected to visit Kosovo for its first direct look at the situation there.

It is sending a humanitarian mission to Yugoslavia on Saturday, for the first time since the Nato airstrikes began seven weeks ago.

Mary Robinson discusses human rights issues surrounding the conflict in Kosovo
Fifteen representatives are to be escorted by Yugoslav police, on what the UN says will be a 12-day exploratory tour of the country including Kosovo.

The mission's leader, the Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said they had been assured of unhindered access.

Spying charge

Meanwhile, two Australian aid workers in Yugoslavia have been charged with spying.

[ image: Kofi Annan: Visiting refugee camps next week]
Kofi Annan: Visiting refugee camps next week
The two men, Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace, were detained more than a month ago at the border near Croatia and accused of using the aid agency, Care, as a cover for organising and gathering intelligence.

Soon after his arrest, Mr Pratt appeared on state television to say he had been involved in acquiring intelligence.

His colleagues said he was acting under duress, and the Australian Government has described the charges as preposterous.

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