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<% ballot="312778" ' Check nothing is broken broken = 0 if ballot = "" then broken = 1 end if set vt = Server.Createobject("mps.Vote") openresult = vt.Open("Vote", "sa", "") ' Created object? if IsObject(vt) = TRUE then ' Opened db? if openresult = True AND broken = 0 then ballotresult = vt.SetBallotName(ballot) ' read the vote votetotal=(vt.GetVoteCount(ballot, "yes")+vt.GetVoteCount(ballot, "no")) if votetotal <> 0 then ' there are votes in the database numberyes = vt.GetVoteCount(ballot, "yes") numberno = vt.GetVoteCount(ballot, "no") percentyes = Int((numberyes/votetotal)*100) percentno = 100 - percentyes ' fix graph so funny graph heights dont appear 'if percentyes = 0 then ' percentyes = 1 'end if 'if percentno = 0 then ' percentno = 1 'end if else ' summut went wrong frig it numberyes = 0 numberno = 0 percentyes = 50 percentno = 50 end if end if end if %> Tuesday, April 6, 1999 Published at 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK

Should the refugees leave the Balkans?

Nato countries are offering temporary respite to Kosovo's refuguees by airlifting them from the Balkans. But is this playing into President Milosevic's hands?

Background ¦ Vote ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

Kosovo's refugees are still streaming out of the country, but towards what?

Kosovo: Special Report
Those arriving in Macedonia have formed queues reported to be 25km long stretching back into Kosovo.

Albania is requesting urgent humanitarian assistance as they struggle to cope with the vast influx of refugees.

So now Turkey, the United States, Britain and Germany are among countries offering to temporarily shelter the thousands of people who have been driven from their homes in Kosovo.

However even though the refugees are being welcomed by Turkey, some have said they do not want to go. One man even tried to escape from the airport before being caught by Turkish police.

If the refugees are airlifted from the Balkans, will they ever be able to return?

International Development Secretary Clare Short said: "Moving people out of the region is doing exactly what [Yugoslav President] Milosevic wants."

"What we have got to get is much more urgency, to get the refugees over the border and cared for, and better organised care for refugees," she said.

But UK Home Secretary Jack Straw defended the airlifts.

Those brought to the United Kingdom would go back to Kosovo when it became safe to do so, he said, although the offer of temporary protection would not detract from an individual's right to claim permanent protection.

What do you think about the airlifts? Is it a good idea for the refugees to be taken from Balkans?

Background ¦ Vote ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

We don't need water or other medical staff for refugees, we need money!! Nobody knows that we are the poorest country in this region! I'm sick of hypocrisy of American and British governments of telling us about solidarity with refugees! We don't have enough money for our problems, not for Albanians. USA and UK should take them on their land! We are not involved in the Kosovo crisis and we don't want to be! Think a little bit!
Jane, Macedonia

When will the Yugoslav people in Serbia wake up? Do they really think that if this was just "propaganda", the USA and Nato would still be bombing? The conflict is over the actions of clearing Kosovo of the ethnic minority Albanians. Any political settlement will require Belgrade to pay reparations to Kosovo, thus the Serb people will end up paying for the rebuilding of Kosovo, because their Government ordered the clearance of Kosovo. They need to bring down Milosevic, and boot him out of the country to The Netherlands to stand trial as the war criminal he is alleged to be.
Andrew Walker, England

Is there a choice for the refugees anyway? Nato will always be apologetic that it had not 'foreseen' a crisis of such proportions, but then one would always think that Nato muscle-power and brain-power are gulfs apart. What Nato has done is to implant the seeds of some permanent destabilisation in the region and it has made refugees of a multitude of the future generation as well? Is a short-term solution like sheltering a certain number of people in certain camps in certain places going to be of ANY help?
Gopal Shah, Kenya

The refugees should have human treatment and be moved only if they agree to. Macedonian authorities have committed crime against humanity closing the border and forcefully moving the people from Blace and should be held accountable for that. Serbs are talking from themselves. Just read their comments, look at their pathetic statements on the media, you'll know enough of them.
Alija, Bosnia

So, I read here that Macedonians are animals. Thank you very much. We are accepting refugees and that's why we are animals. It is very easy to judge from a distance. Come here; live here at least 6 months; socialise yourself with the people and then you will have a right to judge.
We did not kill, we are not killing and we will not kill. From 75000 people located on the border, only 30 died, mainly old people. It is very sad to hear that somebody died, but nobody has been killed, they died from natural reasons.
What we are doing is survival. Macedonia has 2,000,000 people. 25% percents are Albanians, that is a number of 500,000. Now there are 135,000 (official number) Kosovar Albanians in Macedonia. Kosovo has 2,000,000 people. Most of them are Albanians. What will happen if they come and stay in Macedonia?
Ivan Ivanovski, Macedonia

Perhaps instead of raising 3 million pounds from the UK public we could give them the money saved via a cease-fire, for every missile we would have sent instead donate £1.1million pounds.
Liz, UK

In a civilised country, people aren't forced to "stay' or "go". The Serbs who write in, seem think, their wounds of the past justify their crimes of today. It isn't going to be accepted by the west. They will have to learn how to over come their past, without inviting more misery on themselves.
Tim, USA

Is there an actual community anywhere in the world which is ready to receive with open arms a few hundred or thousand refugees in their midst? Particularly those of a different culture, language and religion - who on the whole have a tendency not to assimilate into the community. I would say that the humanitarian spirit and social or religiously spurted goodwill usually is over-ridden by not-in-my-back-yard and see where my-taxes-are-going attitude. So yes, kick the ass of the bad guys, stimulate the sagging arms industry, and establish Kosovo for its rightful inhabitants.
A. George, Azerbaijan

No one is really prepared to handle all of the refugees, and some places just don't want them. Until suitable locations can be found, we should step up our supplies and relief aid for them.
Andy, USA

House the refugees in Albania until Nato ground troops clear Kosova of Serbian forces, set up a protectorate and make it possible to begin rebuilding. Milosevic should not be allowed to cynically use the refugees to destabilise neighbouring states, as is clearly his goal.
Michael, USA

No. I'm afraid those who might be sent to the US will become accustomed to the care free wealthy lifestyle we have and will not want to return to their third world existence (and who could blame them). I say we should give them guns as well as anti-tank weapons and let them fight their way back into Kosovo with the support of Nato (i.e. US) airpower.
Shawn, USA

NO, there is no need for that. They can all just return to Albania where they came from in the first place...
Vuk Trifkovic, UK

I am completely ashamed of my government's plan to hide our share of the refugees in squalid, rat-infested camps in Guantanamo, Cuba. They deserve better. We have accepted refugees from many places. Why should we treat the Kosovars worse? Guantanamo is the worst of all worlds. It's far from Kosovo, where the refugees need to go back to. It's far from the American people who want to help them, and it's far from the eyes and ears of Americans who might want to learn about the short-sightedness and incompetence of our own leaders.
Darrol Draper, USA

Is there anybody so stupid to believe that bombs and rockets will help people live happy and peaceful? For two weeks Nato is bombing my country and I don't see any diplomatic efforts done by western officials to make peace. Their only way is the war!!! So, people of the west, don't believe this propaganda and lies! Serbs suffered great losses, 800,000 refugees from Krajina, and You think they are the aggressors? Awake!
Dragic Mitrovic, Serbia

I think we will have to watch Milosevic carefully. He says he wishes the deportees to return. But he has relieved the Albanians of all their papers. He will probably say that they are not legitimate residents of Kosovo and will supply new papers to other Serbians to take their place. I would like to know what the Orthodox Church thinks about all this. They have apparently not uttered a dickybird. Like the Catholic Church during the war regarding the Jews???
Rex Young, UK

No, they should stay in their homes if they are Yugoslav citizens (most of them are not) and respect laws of their country. Albanians should go to Albania. However Yugoslav citizens of Albanian origin should stay. I have travelled a lot; the rights minorities enjoy in our country are superb compared to western countries. One can easily run into a 20 year old Scipetarian or Hungarian person who can barely speak the official language.
Radmilo Simic, Yugoslavia

The refugees should be kept in safe areas, perhaps some type of camp until the situation has calmed down. Some would say that this would mean that there would be thousands of people stranded away from their homes for an undefined length of time, but the quicker Nato can either appease this very hostile situation or stop the threat altogether with the use of ground troops and further air strikes the better. So perhaps the best plan is for us all just stop worrying about what the refugees are doing and let the politicians end this war as soon as possible.
Miss Cope, Scotland

The precious ethnic balance in Macedonia that someone has mocked on this message board is, indeed, precious. Is there a nation that wants to be a minority in its own country? This, most certainly, will be the outcome if thousands of hundreds of refugees be let in Macedonia and stay there. Who will guarantee that they won't stay there? Who can guarantee that, Macedonia thus becoming a country where Albanians are the majority, Macedonians won't become strangers in their own land.

Anything that can make easier the life of the refugees, including airlifts, should be done. I don't think it will affect Milosevic's position, as NATO has finally the upper hand. On the contrary, NATO should now set additional conditions to the Serbs, including the rebuilding of destroyed villages, recompense all families who lost members and hand over all war criminals. If they don't accept, let them be bombarded till the end of time.
Kostas Papadakis, Canada

I was personally embarrassed at my Government's decision not to allow the Kosovo refugees into Australia. I am now very happy that my Government has reversed that decision and Australia will "do the right thing" and lessen the refugees suffering. Happy Birthday Nato keep up the good work!
Paul Totten, Australia

Nobody should move from their own land including Albanians or Serbs or any other ethnic group. But, do you think that people in YU want to stay in ruined, bombed and deserted country. 500 000 have left the country since the beginning of the war in Bosnia, and more will follow. I think NATO, KLA and YU police should all leave and most of all LEAVE US IN PEACE!!!
Maja, Yugoslavia

I feel that we owe it to the refugees to offer them asylum - temporary or permanent - in Western Europe and USA , IF they want it - this is to apologise to them for the massive mess-up of the whole situation made by our respective UK and USA governments. In order to accommodate these Kosovo/Albanian refugees, we should expel all Serb nationals living in the EU, except those who are openly prepared to denounce Milosevic. The net cost to us will be far less than the money NATO, and in particular the British Government is now wasting on the continued bombing. I would then stop the bombing, call the whole thing off, and put down this terrible tragedy to a 'bad experience'.
Phil Musson, UK

The theory that refugees should stay in the region is nothing else than racism. The truth is that people in the UK are afraid that this dirty people will bring mud in their clean country. Have they right to call "animals" those who are really try to help to the poor people in trouble?
Dimitar, Macedonia

Milosevic is using the Kosovar refugees as a human shield and an instrument of chantage. That's not even original, Castro did the same in 1980 and 1994, flooding South Florida with hundreds of thousands of refugees. Relocating them will respond to the dictator's interests once again. Wouldn't it be easier to drive the Serb troops away from Kosovo and establish a safe heaven in their own homeland?
G. Perez, Cuba

If they can return to Kosovo from Macedonia, they can return from anywhere. And the fragile stability of Macedonia will be preserved.
Mihail Petkovski, UK

Today they are refugees, tomorrow they will be immigrants. It's easier than sending them back.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

Thank you, Bill, for helping Slobodan to gain a victory over Albanians. Kosovo is Serbia!
Vera, Russia

A medical catastrophe awaits these people as long as they remain gathered in large groups in unsanitary conditions. They must be TEMPORARILY dispersed and cared for. The government wants to keep 20,000 at a naval base, but we Americans would welcome them here, even into our homes. We could easily accommodate 10 times that number. It doesn't matter WHERE these people are sheltered but only that they ARE given shelter. This must be done QUICKLY before starvation and epidemics begin killing them by the thousands.
C Hinton MD, USA

They should stay there. It is their land. Now it may seem like they are losing it, but if they leave, they will definitely lose it.
Paul, USA

If the refugees are moved out of the Balkans then all of Nato might as well pack up and leave. Milosevic will have won his battle to cleanse the area of Albanians. In order to prevent a Milosevic victory, the refugees must be kept AND CARED FOR in the Balkans.
M Pfundstein, USA

Clearly the aims of Milosevic will be, in part, met by moving the refugees. Why assist him in his overall scheme.
Michael, USA

No they must not leave the Balkans. Albanians must resist at any cost this horrendous campaign to deprive them of the land where their ancestors "The Illyrians" lived long before the barbarians arrived to launch their "Civilisation". In the eve of the third millennium there should be no compromise made with evil.
Saimir, UK

Everyone involved should share responsibility for their actions. The same goes for countries about to get a couple of hundred thousands Muslim inhabitants as a reward for their insightful peace efforts.
Obrad Bjelic, Malta

I think that the refugees that leave the Balkans will probably not return. The reason for this is that they won't have anything to return to. Their homes will be destroyed by U.S. bombs and whatever is left will be in Milosovic's hands.
Peter, USA

Today they are refugees, tomorrow they will be immigrants. It's easier than sending them back.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

To permanently re-house the refugees away from Kosovo would be to assist in a kind of "ethnic cleansing by stealth". We have to make Kosovo safe for them to return to, not allow Milosevic to co-opt us into taking the problem out of his court.
Nicholas Palmer, UK

Refugees should be given the choice of leaving, not herded onto planes if they don't want to go. Instead, let them have a choice and stay, with aid, if they want to. We in the West started this offensive so it's the least we can do to offer what aid is necessary. Long-term, they must be allowed to return safely to their homes, otherwise that wicked man Milosevic will have won hands down...something I do not wish to see.
Melanie Deeprose, Britain

The only way to put pressure on the West to make the necessary concessions that would allow these people to go home is for them to become a nuisance to the West. If they stay in camps in Albania and Macedonia, the West will forget about them in two months. Put them up in Buckingham Palace and the White House.
Themos Tsikas, UK

Nato, after severe procrastination, decided to bomb. They unfortunately forgot to go over what the humanitarian impact would be, even the Labour Government admitted that they hadn't thought of the recriminations that would happen. And now the people who didn't take the decision, i.e. the tax payer are now having to pay for Nato's errors. This I do not believe is right. It is again down to the generosity of charities and the donations that they receive from the general public. Nato should pay for the error of its judgement.
Ruth, UK

Taking them away is just what these Serbian animals want.
Martyn Brett, Scotland

I feel Nato should establish a safe haven, such as in Iraq, throughout Kosovo. This will involve ground forces, which frankly are long over due. It is also pleasantly surprising that our Russian friends recognise that genocide is occurring. Perhaps Russia would like to play a part in this ground force instead of sitting on the sidelines protecting their own interest. In addition Albanians who do wish to leave should be given that choice and not have it forced upon them with the resulting split from family and friends.
Nathan, UK

What choice do the refugees have at this point? NATO has made that choice for them - either stay and be killed by bombs or exit to safety. I would be getting out of there for the sake of my life and family. We have really given them no other choice. It is the same thought pattern as the pro-life anti-abortionists in this country who bomb abortion clinics in the name of "life." Where did anyone come up with a positive outcome from this way of thinking? I also blame the media for not reporting the truth and educating people about what is really happening. I am an ashamed American and do not support the bombing in any fashion. I would gladly take refugees into my home.
Lynn Price, USA

Only the sick young old and mothers should be evacuated.
Derek Harte, Belgium

Milosevic must be smiling to watch planeloads of refugees leaving for other countries. What is the likelihood of them ever wanting to return to Kosovo once they have been cared for elsewhere in the world? Surely it would be far better for Nato to create safe havens within Kosovo, in which temporary camps can be built to care for the refugees, until the situation is resolved and they can to rebuild their lives in their homeland. To airlift them from Kosovo sends the wrong message and will encourage others who want to ethnically cleanse their lands, as Nato will do the job for them ........
Wendy, UK

Yes this is a terrible situation for all involved. All this rot that Nato started it is rubbish. People were fleeing because of the Serbian Army. If USA or Nato or whoever did nothing you would criticise and say they are heartless because they turned a blind eye and let Milosevic army carry on killing and terrorising. And he most likely had his eye on new territories. So now Nato intervenes and you are blaming them for the actions of the Serbian Army against the Albanians. What did the neighbouring countries do all this time, would you have turned a blind eye and done nothing till now? I hope that Albanians see some hope in the human race. Come on its 1999! Its not the dark ages!
Tracy Rice, Australia

Most of the comments I just read on this page, in their many various forms, are ALL right on target! It's not the 'people' of the US, CAN, UK or Israel that are the problem, it's ALL the politicians running with this fiasco. The question is, how do WE get THEM to listen to reason?
Khiori, USA

If Nato can plan its attack in advance, (which I believe they have), could they not plan the refugee situation. It rather pathetic and calculative to be surprised at the refugee situation. What did Nato or the Nato nations think, that the Albanians where going to stay in Kosova. It has been obvious all along that neither Macedonia or Albania have the resource to take care of the refugees. But as usual who care if the civilians die or displaced if the big powers can use their homes as a battle ground. And where is the UN. Couldn't UNCHR or NATO with all its experts calculate the refugee situation.
Usha Ananthakrishnan, Sweden

The problem with Albanians is, you bring few thousand in and in a few years they are a majority and want independence. See what happened in Serbia.
David Hughes, Ireland

Refugees should not leave the Balkans. Even if they do so, because conditions on the borders with neighbouring countries are disastrous, they have to go back to Kosovo, as well as all Bosnian refugees should return to their homes (which has not been the case so far) The point is that refugees have to go home when the crisis is over. Otherwise, Europe will face enormous negative consequences which are not just humanitarian but political.
Anesa Hrustanovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

There's no point staying behind and getting killed. Neighbouring countries should take them in, especially the Nato countries, since they made the decision to bomb.
Tary, Singapore

There is no reason for them to leave Balkans. They are here and this is their country. If Nato stops bombing no-one will leave its home. USA and medias make artificial exodus, because they have to have alibi for bombing. Wake up, people. They want to rule the world, and they want to conquer everyone in the world. Serbian people stood up for their rights. But, US wants Russians to interfere in that, because they want to humiliate them. They think that Russians are weak, but they don't count a Slavistic soul. We are all together, and we don't want to let any one to defeat us. Yugoslavia is sovereign country, and we should solve all our problems by ourselves. We didn't attack anyone, and we are hoping that all nations, all normal people will sustain our policy.
Nikola, Yugoslavia

While I understand the reasons for moving the refugees I can't help but wonder how these folks are EVER going to be able to repatriate?
1. Who will pay to move them back?
2. Once they have lived in the more affluent western countries like Britain, The US and Australia will they WANT to go back?? I look at the refugees still in camps in Lebanon and Gaza, at those displaced persons in Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo, and I wonder what will happen to the wide-eyed children that we see on the Television night after night.
Mark Hartgrove, USA

NO, they should not leave, and also YES, Nato should get out. People in the Balkans have for centuries lived mixed, and they should and can continue so. But without help in the form of bombing raids.
Vladan C, Yugoslavia

A great number of the ethnic Albanians crossed illegally from Albania anyway, why would they have the right to take away one part of the country, when they weren't even born in it? If 100,000 Mexicans cross into New Mexico, US and they multiply to 1,000,000 after 20 years, by the same analogy, they should be given independence, should they opt to take up arms against the US government. Otherwise, US should be bombed until they agree that part of their sovereign territory is taken away. Doesn't sound too appealing to any country, does it?
Miles, Australia

The mediocre results of the Nato operation to protect Kosovars from genocide makes the countries members of the alliance completely responsible for refugees. The allocation of refugees in countries participating in a military operation is the price that allies will have to pay.
Vladimir, Russia

The reason why I personally do not think the refugees should leave is because once they are gone Milosevic has what he wants. I think those who want to leave should be able to but any of those who want to return to their homeland should not be denied that personal choice. I think all the events so far have been terribly traumatic for these people, and due to that I do not think most would want to leave. Also, why should they leave? What is the most important thing now is for a safe and sanitised place to be set up so that they can live in a somewhat more comfortable fashion without having to worry about the health of the children and loved ones.
Elaine Falvey, Scotland

How convenient! All this talk of poor Kosovo but when it comes down to providing more practical support, like granting political asylum or refugee status in this country, people don't want to know.
The refugees should certainly be allowed to come here if they wish. They can return to Kosovo after the war. This is being attacked as playing in Milosevic's hands, but what are the options? Leave them in Kosovo where they will be slaughtered, or leave them in the bordering countries who are too poor to cope with the demand. Fighting a war is not just about dropping bombs and making political speeches.
Kate, UK

By getting them out of the country, it makes it more difficult to go back, and thereby helping Milosevic to achieve his objectives of ethnic cleansing. Nato should have been prepared for the magnitude of the refugee crisis. Obviously, they have fallen short.
David Samuel, Canada

If there is a way to relieve some of the suffering of these people, then they must be brought out to safety. We can not let these people, these men, woman, and children be chased from thier homes with only what they can carry, and then leave them without help. I would offer my home to a family.
Tim Lynch, USA

Yes, but to Albania and not to the rest of the world. These are Albanian people who have crossed the border in to Serbia over the years. While those born in Serbia have the right to continue to live there they have no right to a separate state in Serbia. Stop Milosevic and also stop the KLA!
Rody, UK

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