Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Kosovo aid airlift takes off
Local families in Kukes are taking in the refugees
Millions of dollars of aid have been pledged. But for tens of thousands of hungry, ill and desperate refugees stranded in Albania, this will be the first international aid since they fled their homes.
With widespread reports of Serb forces carrying out summary executions and setting fire to Albanian homes, Nato leaders have emphasised their determination to intensify their bombing of Yugoslavia.
At the same time, Russia has ordered some of its warships to the area to monitor the situation.
The proposal, brokered by the Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, offered to withdraw some Serb forces from Kosovo if Nato stopped its air strikes.
UK Defence Secretary George Robertson described the offer as "the first crack in Milosevic's wall of obstinacy".
It showed, Mr Robertson said, the Yugoslav leader had "miscalculated again when he thought Nato would grasp at this inadequate and spurious offer."
As the refugee crisis deepened inside some of Europe's poorest countries, the UN's Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to the international community to step up its relief efforts.
The European Union, which has just released $10.7m worth of aid, is sending its humanitarian aid commissioner Emma Bonino to Tirana.
Before she left, she told the BBC that the crisis depended on how many refugees would have to be catered for by neighbouring countries.
"We are seeing a very serious refugee crisis, which is worsening by the hour," UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said. "People are arriving exhausted, traumatised and terrorised."
Sokol Gjoka, spokesman for the Albanian foreign ministry, said that in the northern town of Kukes local families had begun to take in refugees.
Kukes hospital is treating the sick and wounded and is stretched to its limit. A hospital spokesman said that up to 350 people had been treated, 50 of whom had been wounded by the Serb military and police forces.
Macedonian officials say it was impossible for his country to support the refugees on a long-term basis.
"This is too much for Macedonia's economic capabilities," said Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, Tihomir Ilieviski.
UN relief officials planned to meet on Thursday to draw up a new international appeal for Kosovo, saying the existing one for $64 million was no longer enough.