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Saturday, May 8, 1999 Published at 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK


Preparing for refugee influx

More and more refugees are set to fly into the UK

As the UK prepares to take up to 1,000 Kosovo refugees a week, a small army of people is working behind the scene to get ready for their arrival.

Brits in Balkans
The next wave of 300 refugees is set to arrive in Scotland on Sunday, and more will fly into Manchester next week.

Albanians already living in Britain, and the local authorities set to house refugees, are gearing up for the influx.

The Albanian Community Centre in north London, which keeps lists of separated families, has become a vital chain linking Britain and the Balkans as refugees try to get news of relatives and friends.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas: "With 1,000 refugees arriving a week, the demands will be huge"
It is providing interpreters and a reception committee for the next wave of refugees to arrive.

The centre's Jetemir Balaj said making the refugees feel safe and welcome was the main priority.

"Beyond that, a lot of them require immediate medical attention. Most of them need some rest and counselling," he said.

Refugees arriving next week will be housed in north Manchester, where work has being going on non-stop to convert derelict flats for them.

[ image: Staff at the Albanian Community Centre are hard at work]
Staff at the Albanian Community Centre are hard at work
Social services and health authorities have also been getting ready to help.

Manchester Health Authority's Anne Hoskins said: "We are envisaging that it will be women and children who are on the whole healthy, albeit having gone through a very difficult and traumatic time.

"What we will be trying to do in their rest centres is look at their health needs, and as much as possible integrate them into the local health services with access to general practitioners, and district health nurses and health visitors."

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