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Saturday, May 8, 1999 Published at 03:37 GMT 04:37 UK


World: Europe

EU's Bonino slams aid efforts

This Kosovo Albanian family walked 80km to cross at the Albanian border

The European Union's acting commissioner for humanitarian affairs, Emma Bonino, has criticised the international relief effort to help Kosovo Albanian refugees for what she says is a lack of co-ordination.

Kosovo: Special Report
"We really have to improve coordination _ There is not a lack of humanitarian assistance; there is a lack of discipline, prioritisation and coordination," she said in an address in the Albanian capital, Tirana.

Ms Bonino's comments came after lengthy discussions with relief workers and government ministers running refugee camps in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania.

The humanitarian aid head is trying to assess how best to allocate around $150m of EU aid among countries which have accepted refugees.

(Click here to see a map of refugee movements to date)

Emma Bonino also criticised Macedonia, her next port of call, after the closure of its border with Kosovo on Wednesday night.


[ image: Emma Bonino:
Emma Bonino: " Lack of discipline, prioritisation and coordination"
Macedonia has since declared its border open again, but the move appeared to trap around 1,000 refugees in Yugoslavia.

Once they were back in Yugoslav territory, Serbian troops could be seen beating and shoving the refugees until they were out of sight, the UNHCR reports.

The refugees have not been seen since.

Emma Bonino said some episodes involving Macedonia had caused major concern and she wanted to remind its leaders that, while assistance would be given, the country had also, in her words, to live up to international standards.

Sources in the Macedonian capital Skopje now say the border was only closed briefly to highlight the huge numbers of refugees it is obliged to accept.

Kukes camp to close

The UN refugee agency's Balkans envoy Dennis McNamara has reaffirmed the agency's intention to move refugees further away from the Albanian border with Kosovo.


[ image: The Kosovo-Macedonia border was deserted when it reopened on Thursday]
The Kosovo-Macedonia border was deserted when it reopened on Thursday
Of the 405,000 Kosovo Albanians seeking refuge in Albania, 100,000 are being housed just outside the town of Kukes, within shelling distance of the Serb forces across the border.

"We do not want camps near military areas ... we are doing everything possible to persuade the people in the camps to leave as soon as possible," said Mr McNamara.

The UN agency is planning a move for tens of thousands of refugees as soon as Sunday.

Mr McNamara added however that "we won't close the tents on top of the refugees".

The UNHCR and the Albanian authorities had already called on the refugees to move south, but most do not want to travel even further from their homeland.


[ image:  ]

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Internet Links


UNHCR: Kosovo Refugees

Serbian Ministry of Information

Kosovo Crisis Centre

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