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

Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK

World: Europe

Kosovo aid train 'held to ransom'

Hundreds of thousands of people were forced out of Kosovo

Macedonia is reportedly demanding $8,000 to release a British aid train bound for Kosovo after stopping it just 80km (50 miles) from its destination.

Kosovo: Special Report
The ''Train for Life'' has been stuck in a siding in Skopje with 8,000 tons of aid on board for more than 24 hours.

One of the organisers, Tony Morris, said staff on the train had received threats from local railway workers.

They were running out of supplies and were exhausted by their ordeal.

Officials from the Kosovo peacekeeping force, K-For, and the British embassy in Macedonia are trying to help sort out the problem.

Second hold-up

The train was due to arrive in Pristina on Saturday after completing a 4,500km (2,800 mile) trip from Britain.

It was already a day behind after an eight-hour delay on Friday at the border between Bulgaria and Greece because a local driver could not be found.

Train for Life spokesman Andy Milne said: "There are some severe problems. The [Macedonian] railway company is demanding $8,000 for them to proceed.

"There are 15 British nationals on board and we are rather concerned for their welfare. Apparently there have been death threats from Serbs working on the Macedonian railways.''

Shattered railways

The Train for Life is loaded with clothes, food, construction equipment, medicine and artificial limbs.

The BBC's Jon Leyne: ''The railway line was the scene of much misery''
But the biggest part of the donation could be the train itself, which will be drafted into service to help revive Kosovo's shattered railway system.

The scheme was organised by a former British Rail worker, Neil Howard, who was appalled at the sight of Kosovan refugees being forced on to trains at gunpoint during the conflict with Serbia.

"He was devastated to see trains being used for such inhumane purposes and was keen to do something to reverse the trend," said Mr Milne.

Building for the future

The three British engines that have hauled the train across Europe are to be detached and put to work on Kosovo's ailing railways.

They will be used to transport construction material across the province, helping UN troops who are attempting to create one winter-proof room per household in Kosovo.

Four British drivers who have taken the train across Europe will stay in Pristina for two days to instruct local train crews how to operate the engines.

Advanced options | Search tips

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

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

Relevant Stories

24 Sep 99 | Europe
Kosovo Gypsies stranded on border

22 Sep 99 | Europe
Albania welcomes KLA Kosovo deal

22 Sep 99 | World
Nato assesses Kosovo lessons

18 May 99 | Europe
Refugee train allowed out of Kosovo

Internet Links

UN in Kosovo


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