Tuesday, April 6, 1999 Published at 00:49 GMT 01:49 UK
Annan slates Serb forces
Kosovo refugees have lost homes and identities, said Mr Annan
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has accused Serb security forces of "shocking violations of human rights" in driving up to 400,000 Kosovo Albanians from their homes.
Mr Annan told UN Security Council members: "Yet again we face the abominable practice of 'ethnic cleansing' only a few years after it transformed the demography of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"The Serbian authorities must halt such actions."
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Irish President Mary Robinson, was "taking urgent steps to strengthen our capacity to monitor the shocking violations of human rights of the Kosovo population by Serb security forces", he said.
But Mr Annan acknowledged that it was "impossible" at present to send observers to the province.
The UN estimates that close to 400,000 refugees have left their homes in Kosovo since Nato began its air strikes on Yugoslavia on 24 March.
Those displaced include 226,000 people now in Albania, 120,000 in Macedonia and 35,700 in Montenegro.
He said he had been in touch with many world leaders in recent days, including Macedonia's President Kiro Gligorov, who was concerned about the impact of the refugees on the "precarious internal situation in his country".
Mr Annan said he assured the Macedonian president that the international community would share the burden.
Nato on Sunday announced plans by most of its member states to temporarily take in refugees to ease the pressure on the region.
Mr Annan said the offer of the alliance's logistic resources in helping deal with the mass exodus "will make an enormous contribution".
But the UN secretary-general came under fire from Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic, who said Mr Annan would be party to undermining the UN if he made no attempts to halt Nato's "aggression".
"I have been deeply disappointed that, despite our appeal and the efforts of ... peace-loving member states, the Security Council has failed to act in accordance with its responsibilities as set forth in the (UN) charter."
He told Mr Annan in a letter: "You are faced with a historic opportunity to take the side of justice and law, and, at the threshold of a new century, to protect the authority of the United Nations."
The alternative was that Mr Annan would become "an accomplice in undermining the system of the United Nations", Mr Jovanovic warned.
"I hope that it is still not too late for you to make the right choice."
The 15-nation Security Council remains divided on the issue of Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia.
Only Russia, China and Namibia voted in favour of a Russian resolution on 26 March calling for an immediate end to the air strikes.
Twelve countries - including Nato members the US, the UK and France - opposed the resolution.