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Monday, 13 April, 1998, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Operation Angel's mission of mercy
Operation Angel
British voluntary workers dispense toys to Albanian children
Operation Angel, a British convoy which successfully delivered medical supplies to villages in the Serbian province of Kosovo, is planning a similar mission in a few months' time.

Operation Angel
Unloading the Operation Angel trucks
The charity operation reached areas surrounding Drenica in the Serbian province of Kosovo on April 8.

The charity workers had arrived in Kosovo a few days earlier with about about 60,000 of aid, bought with donations from Britain. They were working with a local charity set up by Mother Teresa, who was an Albanian nun.

British volunteers managed to deliver urgently-needed paediatric and medical supplies to about 100 children in the Drenica area, reporting that the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA, watched constantly from the hills.

The relief workers found that one of the villages they visited had been shelled two days earlier, and the volunteers experienced some shelling themselves before rejoining the rest of the convoy in Pristina.

The charity said there had been no assistance to villages around Drenica - among the worst affected by fighting between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanians - since the troubles started.

Operation Angel
Kosovan Albanians in the region are becoming steadily worse off
The local Albanian aid workers have found it difficult to get to get to many villages because of police roadblocks, and Serb snipers, and also the guerrillas have been reluctant to allow foreigners in the area for fear of giving away their positions.

The volunteers returned safely from Drenica area to Pristina where they also delivered aid to orphanages and hospitals.

They then made the journey back to Britain via Italy and France.

Ethnic conflict

The area surrounding Drenica lies north-west from Pristina. The conflict in the area flared up last month in a police operation against Albanian leaders in which more than 80 people were killed, including many women and children.

Over the past few weeks thousands of villagers who fled during the operation have returned to their homes. But Albanian human rights officials say that many areas are practically under siege and about 5,000 people are still refugees, mostly staying with relatives and friends.

BBC News
Operation Angel's Sally Becker - interviewed on BBC's Today programme (1'55")
See also:

30 May 98 | Kosovo
Kosovo: Key facts and background
01 Apr 98 | Kosovo
Kosovo: UN's New Arms Embargo
07 Apr 98 | Despatches
Kosovo Albanians boycott Serb visit
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