Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Border shut on refugee tide
Kosovo Albanians are fleeing towards neighbouring countries
Yugoslavia has closed off its main border with Albania because guards can no longer cope with the swell of refugees escaping the Kosovo crisis.
Plea for aid
The post at Morina, near Kukes, about 250 km (155 miles) north of the Albanian capital Tirana, was shut after a total of more than 60,000 refugees had arrived.
"There was congestion. There are a lot of people on the other side. Refugees are arriving at a rate of 4,000 per hour now." the spokesman for OSCE's Tirana office said.
While estimates vary as to the precise number of refugees flooding across the borders, authorities agree they stretch into the tens of thousands.
A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Lyndall Sachs, said giving definite figures was difficult because there were no longer monitors on the ground.
"This is the figure which has been put together over the past year since this conflict broke out. So a lot of those were displaced before the Nato offensive," Lyndall Sachs said.
A spokesman for the Nato alliance, Jamie Shea, described the situation as the worst Europe had seen for more than 50 years:
"We have to recognise that we are now on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster ... the likes of which we have not seen in Europe since the closing days of World War II," he said.
Serbia denies crisis
But the Serbian Government refugee commissioner, Bratislava Morina, who is of ethnic Albanian origin herself, has dismissed reports of a refugee crisis in Kosovo.
Belgrade says its forces are acting only against the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.
After five nights of air strikes, there is no sign that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is prepared to back down in the face of Nato's air campaign.
The Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said 1,000 civilians had so far been killed in the Nato action.
Montenegro welcomes refugees
BBC correspondents in the region say many more thousands of refugees are massing near the borders with stories of their relatives being killed and their houses being looted and burnt.
The refugees say they were forced to leave at gunpoint. Most of those leaving are women and children, and they say that men were taken away by the armed forces.
Thousands fled the town but some said they had seen bodies in the streets of Pec, and on the roads leading to the border.
Montenegro is Serbia's junior partner in the Yugoslav federation, but is increasingly distancing itself from its neighbour.
Macedonia: Exodus speeds up
The flow of displaced people from Kosovo into Macedonia has increased dramatically in the past 24 hours, according to BBC Correspondent Paul Wood, who has been at the border.
Refugees have spoken consistently of Serbian atrocities. They tell stories of whole families being taken from their homes and shot, adding that men of fighting age are particular targets. Others talk of cases of mutilation.
Albania: 'Scientific' expulsions
A senior local government official in northern Albania said the Serbs were "scientifically" expelling Kosovo Albanians from their homes, and pushing them towards the border.
The Albanian Government has urgently requested 400 buses which the Italian Government had promised in a bilateral trade agreement, to transport the refugees who are arriving in the country.