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Yugoslavia: UN Aid Rushed To Kosovo Refugees Fleeing Serbian Shells

Geneva, 2 June 1998 (RFE/RL) - The United Nations refugee agency says it is rushing emergency aid to hundreds of ethnic Albanians who have fled heavy shelling by Serb forces in Serbia's strife-torn southern Kosovo province. Spokesman Kris Janowski said today in Geneva that the UNHCR is sending supplies to more than 1,300 refugees who fled Kosovo over the weekend for neighboring Albania.

Janowski said large groups of civilians are fleeing "quite heavy fire." He said the Serbs' military action may be hitting some guerrillas, but is predominantly hitting the civilian population.

He said Serbian military forces are denying access to UN and aid workers to the area where the military action is going on. This was confirmed by correspondents in Kosovo who said the area remained cut off as Serb forces tried to wipe out ethnic Albanian militants. As a result, there were no new reports on casualties from the fighting today.

Meanwhile Albania's ruling party and opposition parties today labelled the expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo as "ethnic cleansing." They also called for immediate international intervention to prevent the conflict from worsening.

The leftist ruling Socialist Party condemned "the criminal acts of Belgrade authorities and their policy of ethnic cleansing."

Albania's center-right Union for Democracy, which includes the main opposition Democratic Party and five other smaller opposition parties, accused Serbia of committing "unprecedented ethnic genocide" in Kosovo.