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Sunday, May 23, 1999 Published at 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK

World: Europe

Fresh exodus from Kosovo

Men who had been feared dead

The BBC's Clive Myrie: "The last two days have provided some of the cruelest sights"
Hundreds more men who had been given up for dead inside Kosovo have crossed the border into Albania.

They brought similar accounts of their mistreatment by Serb forces as a group of 500 men who completed the journey on Saturday.

Kosovo: Special Report
United Nations officials say the latest batch are in an even worse condition than those who crossed earlier, describing them as emaciated and emotionally traumatised.

Both groups have said they suddenly released from prison by the Serbians, although they did not know why.

A Kosovo Albanian refugee speaks of beatings from the Serbs
Some of the men who crossed on Saturday have said they were regularly beaten and fed only bread and water. They say thousands more men are being detained.

The men have talked about how they were snatched from refugee columns heading for the Albanian border as their children and wives wept.

[ image: Harrowing tales]
Harrowing tales
They told reporters they were verbally abused and regularly beaten in the school and prison where they were kept.

When the Serbs said they were free to go and loaded them onto trucks, the men said they all prayed and cried because they thought they were going to be executed.

The UNHCR is now doing what it can to try and reunite some of the men with their families who may have already crossed the border.

Humphrey Hawksley: Refugee video shows why the war is so close to home
After a decline in the number of refugees crossing into the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, aid workers are once again seeing a large movement of people across the border.

Thousands of Kosovo Albanians who had been waiting at the border with Macedonia on Sunday were loaded onto buses to be taken to refugee camps.

Earlier they were told they would not be allowed into the country and would have to go to Albania. The Macedonian authorities backed down after the intervention of UN staff.

The UK International Development Secretary, Clare Short, says all but 200,000 Kosovo Albanians have now fled from their homes. This is out of a total population of 1.8 million.

Refugees are pouring into Macedonia in their thousands in the biggest influx seen there for several weeks. More than 7,000 have arrived over the past 24 hours.

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

Many came in trains and buses with stories of Serbian forces starting to purge the regional capital, Pristina, of its ethnic-Albanian population.

Peter Biles: Hopes have been raised for thousands of other refugees
Nato says the Serbs may be sending more troops to Kosovo rather than withdrawing from the province. At the daily briefing, a spokesman said the alliance had learned of an unspecified number of new recruits from Montenegro being deployed in the Pec area of western Kosovo.

The senior Yugoslav general in charge of conducting the war in Kosovo has been called in from the military campaign to placate thousands of mutinous troops, according to reports reaching the republic of Montenegro.

Protests are continuing in several towns in Serbia where the families of dead and wounded soldiers are calling for an end to the fighting.

US President Bill Clinton said the air campaign was working and would restore displaced Kosovo Albanians to their homes.

But UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said Nato must prepare to deploy troops "in a permissive or a non-permissive environment".

Nato struck hard at the Serbian electricity network on Sunday night, hitting major generating plants and severely disrupting power supplies across Serbia, local media and residents said.

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