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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK

World: Europe

New refugee wave expected

Some 4,000 Kosovo refugees entered Macedonia over the weekend

Aid agencies in northern Albania are preparing for a new influx of refugees from Kosovo, as Albanians arrive from the province with grim stories of further atrocities.

Kosovo: Special Report
Nato estimates that more than 500,000 people are displaced inside Kosovo after being forced from their homes by Serb paramilitary forces.

These people are said to be wandering the country looking for a way out to safety.

BBC's Claire Doole: A black spot where thugs are on the rampage
Refugees already in Albania have been moved away from the Kosovo border wherever possible, to make more room in the camps for the next wave.

"It's very alarming," said United Nations High Commission for Refugees spokesman Ron Redmond.

"People say that paramilitaries, masked men with beards, rounded up people house to house. In one village, 21 people were killed by these men."

BBC's Jeremy Bowen: Just yards from a sort of refuge
Mr Redmond said the latest refugee accounts depicted roaming Serb paramilitaries butchering people in villages of northern Kosovo, having emptied towns in the south "with clinical precision".

Red Cross in Belgrade

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Cornelio Sommaruga, was due to meet Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Monday to try to secure the return of the Red Cross to Kosovo and to press for access to the three American soldiers being held in Yugoslavia.

An spokeswoman said on Monday that the ICRC had visited the three soldiers, captured by Yugoslav troops on 31 March near the Yugoslav-Macedonian border. More details of the visit were set to follow after Mr Sommaruga's meeting with the Yugoslav president.

On Sunday Mr Sommaruga toured the Yugoslav city of Novi Sad to inspect bomb damage inflicted in Nato raids.

Accounts of atrocities

Kosovo Albanians arriving at the Albania-Montenegro border spoke of Serbian killings and atrocities in Montenegro triggering the new influx of refugees into Albania.

[ image: Refugees bury a former neighbour killed Roxhaje attack]
Refugees bury a former neighbour killed Roxhaje attack
One refugee from Pec, told journalists that nine Kosovo Albanians had been killed a week ago by Serbian paramilitary forces who raided villages overlooking Roxhaje.

He said six more had been killed in the village of Husaj and three in Bukel.

Meanwhile, refugees arriving in Macedonia described attacks by Serb gunmen on civilians in villages near Pristina.

These include the alleged killing of 11 people in Hallac i Vogel, another 19 in the neighbouring village of Ribar i Vogel, and 15 people in the town of Sllovi, according to reports given to UN relief workers.

Systematic rape

Reports of rape by Serb forces committed against Kosovar women are being gathered by UN war crimes prosecutors in The Hague.

UN Prosecutor Patricia Sellers said testimonies so far indicate that rapes in Kosovo are "neither isolated nor incidental".

[ image: Refugees arrive in Spain, part of the airlift from Macendonia]
Refugees arrive in Spain, part of the airlift from Macendonia
"When the police entered the town, that was the first question they asked: 'Are there any women here?'" said one a young women who had fled the southern Kosovo town of Urosevac.

UNHCR figures say more than 10,000 Kosovar refugees from Montenegro have entered Albania since Tuesday, bringing the total to more than 33,000 since the Nato air campaign began.

Macedonia has received about 175,000 refugees, nearly 30,000 of whom have been airlifted out the country to other European countries.

Three planeloads left on Monday morning taking refugees to Sweden, France and the Netherlands.

Overall, some 600,000 refugees are thought to have fled Kosovo in the last month, according to UNHCR estimates.

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