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Tuesday, April 6, 1999 Published at 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK


UK

Millions pour in to Kosovo appeal

Kosovo Albanian refugees are in urgent need of food

Millions of pounds of donations have been flooding in to help the Kosovo refugees after a national television appeal for funds.

Kosovo: Special Report
By midday Wednesday, people across the UK had pledged more than £3m to the Kosovo Crisis Appeal, co-ordinated by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Phone lines were jammed within minutes of two televised appeals showing scenes of the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees on Kosovo's borders having fled the violence in the province.

Almost 500,000 Kosovo Albanians are estimated to have fled the troubled Yugoslav province. Up to 300,000 have arrived in Albania, which was already the poorest country in Europe.


Jill Dando presents the Kosovo Crisis Appeal
Another 130,000 are in Macedonia and a further 150,000 are believed to be queuing at the Macedonian border. Neighbouring Montenegro has taken in 35,000.

The televised pleas for money were made by presenter Jill Dando on the BBC and actress Juliet Stevenson on ITV on Tuesday evening.

Crisis 'struck a chord'


The BBC's Daniella Relph: "The average donation is high"
A total of 84 volunteer telephone operators at the BT Mayfair Telephone Exchange in central London were taking an average of one call every 70 seconds from members of the public pledging money as the appeal got under way.


[ image: They also require treatment for injuries sustained in the violence]
They also require treatment for injuries sustained in the violence
Organisers said that about 18,000 calls had been received within the first 20 minutes alone.

The operation was also backed up by an automated system with 3,400 lines available for people unable to get through to a volunteer.

Jamie McCaul, executive secretary for the DEC, said: "I think the Kosovo crisis has really struck a chord with the nation and they are generously giving money which will help us do what we need to - to help the refugees."


Rageh Omaar reports: "1.1 million Kosovar Albanians have been systematically forced out"
BT events manager Karen Aherne said pledges had arrived at a record rate - with the average donation worth about £37.

The appeal aims to raise funds to meet the urgent need for food, shelter, medicines, blankets, mattresses, water and sanitation equipment.

Money from the taxman

On Tuesday the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, extended the Millennium Gift Aid scheme to cover donations made to the DEC appeal.


[ image: Countries are co-ordinating efforts to fly out humanitarian aid]
Countries are co-ordinating efforts to fly out humanitarian aid
It will mean gifts of £100 to the Kosovo appeal will be boosted by an extra £30 from the Inland Revenue.

The 12 charities teaming up under the DEC umbrella are the British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International, Children's Aid Direct, Christian Aid, Help The Aged, Concern Worldwide, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

Banks will be handling donations to the appeal free of charge. Television, radio and newspapers are offering free advertising, in addition to BT's 3,400 phone lines for credit card donations.


Ama Annan, of Christian Aid, has just returned from Albania: "In the space of 90 minutes I saw three people die"
Christian Aid spokeswoman Ama Annan, who arrived from Albania late on Monday night, was at the launch of the DEC appeal.

She recalls seeing three people die at a border crossing near the town of Kukes in the space of one-and-a-half hours.

She said foreign agencies were co-operating on the ground but the situation was changing by the hour.

Ms Annan said: "The big difference between Albania and Macedonia is that the Albanians welcome the refugees. They are appalled by the atrocities and they want to help. But it is the poorest country in Europe and they do need support."

Pledging money

Donations can be made to the DEC Appeal by credit or debit card by calling 0870 6060900. Automated lines will remain open until 19 April.

Donations can also be sent by post to: Kosovo Crisis Appeal, PO Box 999, London, EC4A 9AA.

A credit card donation line via the DEC Website is also live at www.dec.org.uk.





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