Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, April 8, 1999 Published at 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK

World: Europe

Missing refugees traced

Macedonia sent thousands of people to Albania

Aid workers have traced thousands of Kosovo refugees previously unaccounted for after a mass evacuation from a Macedonian border camp.

Kosovo: Special Report
The United Nations refugee agency and US State Department say the 10,000 missing refugees are either in Albania or on their way there.

It means Albania has now accepted about 20,000 of 40,000 refugees moved out of Blace border camp by the Macedonian authorities.

Others were moved into Macedonia or transferred to Greece.

(click here for a map of refugee movements)

But fears are growing for other refugees, who have reportedly been forced back into Kosovo by Serb forces as they tried to leave the province.

The UNHCR says most of the Kosovo Albanians who were moved in the middle of the night from Blace have been traced.

And State Department spokesman James Rubin said only a small minority were still unaccounted for.

Families separated

Fergal Keane on the Albanian border: A sense of bewilderment among the refugees
Aid workers are furious over the operation at Blace. They say many families have been split up and may never be reunited.

Others refugees had passports and identity cards taken from them.

Aid agencies say there were enough places for these refugees inside Macedonia in camps just built by Nato troops.

'Human shields'

Concerns are growing that the Serbs may be pushing thousands of refugees back into the province in order to use them as human shields.

[ image: Blace was emptied in one night]
Blace was emptied in one night
The Yugoslavs suddenly closed the borders to Albanian and Macedonia on Wednesday after forcing around 450,000 people out of the country in the last weeks.

Thousands of refugees who had been waiting on the frontier were turned back to villages or towns said to have been ravaged amid the campaign of forced expulsions.

"The refugees ... were told to return to their places of residence - whatever is left of those places," said Doran Vienneau of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been monitoring the border.

The BBC's David Sillito: Aid workers do not know what has happened to all the refugees
Britain's international aid minister, Clare Short, pointed to a "worrying change in Serbian tactics".

Nato Secretary General Javier Solana said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic could be planning to use refugees as human shields or wanted to avoid pictures of a mass exodus being broadcast round the world.

"He could be trying to use people as human shields in case the alliance's military action is concentrated more on the ground," he added.

Along the Albanian border, Yugoslav guards have been seen laying what appear to be mines and digging fortifications.

The UNHCR says more than 600,000 people, nearly a third of Kosovo's population, have fled the province since Nato began bombing Yugoslavia.

[ image:  ]

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

07 Apr 99 | Kosovo
Nato strikes: At a glance

08 Apr 99 | Europe
Belgrade counts the cost

06 Apr 99 | Talking Point
Should the refugees leave the Balkans?

08 Apr 99 | Europe
Pristina - a deserted city

08 Apr 99 | UK
Refugee 'nightmare' dominates UK press

07 Apr 99 | Europe
Picture gallery: Moving out the refugees

07 Apr 99 | UK
Millions pour in to Kosovo appeal

06 Apr 99 | Health
Refugee health risks grow

Internet Links

Oxfam International

UNHCR: Latest figures

Institute for War and Peace Reporting


International Crisis Group

Serbian Ministry of Information

Kosova Press


International Committee of the Red Cross

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift