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Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK


World: Europe

Refugees say Serbs withhold food

The exodus has resumed across the Macedonian border

About 700 Kosovo Albanians have crossed the border into Macedonia, the largest single influx in the past 10 days.

Kosovo: Special Report
From the border at Balce they are being transferred by bus to a refugee camp south-west of the capital, Skopje.

Officials from the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, who were allowed to speak to them, say some were driven from their homes by Serbian police.

Others, they say, mainly from the town of Urosevac, were prevented from buying food from the shops by the Serbian authorities and so had no choice but to leave.


BBC's Jim Fish reports from the Macedonian border
One woman told UN officials that her father had gone out to buy food and was later found shot dead.

The groups arriving over the past two days were the first refugees to arrive in Macedonia since the government temporarily closed the border 10 days ago saying it could not cope with mass arrivals.

After the uncertainty over the border closure, the latest arrivals said they decided to risk the journey after hearing on foreign news broadcasts that fellow refugees were being allowed through into Macedonia, many without passports.

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

The UNHCR believes there could be thousands more waiting inside Kosovo for their chance to escape.

They fear another large influx in the next few days.

Refugee return

Meanwhile, Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana has echoed his belief that the refugees would be home "before winter".


[ image: Not a man in sight]
Not a man in sight
Mr Solana vowed that the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia will continue until its aims are achieved.

He said he had no doubt that hundreds of thousands of Kosovo refugees had been displaced by the Serb military.

"We are on schedule," he told the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme. "We are going to win, no question about that."

He also said he expected to learn "dramatic facts" surrounding the alleged atrocities in Kosovo once international troops had escorted refugees home.

"You don't see males in their 30s to 60s. It will be clarified upon entry into Kosovo and probably we'll see dramatic facts we don't even believe," the Nato chief said.

Nato spokesman Jamie Shea has said there is concern at reports that men between the ages of 16 and 65 are being turned back at the border.

Yugoslavia says these men are of conscription age and cannot leave.


[ image:  ]

(click here to return)





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