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Yugoslavia: NATO Builds Refugee Centers In Macedonia; Flow To Albania Slows


Brussels/Geneva; 20 April 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO engineers are building new refugee centers in Macedonia as thousands of Kosovo refugees continue to arrive at the border in search of sanctuary. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said today that Macedonian authorities had agreed to a new camp at Cegrane, which could house up to 15,000 people. A transit camp is also being built at the Blace border crossing to offer a temporary haven to 5,000 displaced people before they move inland.

The UNHCR says about 2,000 displaced Kosovars are waiting in a no-mans land between Kosovo and Macedonia to be admitted to the camps. In contrast, almost no Kosovars arrived today at the Albanian border. A UNHCR spokesman said that by early this afternoon it was less than 20.

In Geneva, the head of the UNHCR, Sadako Ogata, appealed to the international community for more humanitarian assistance for the displaced Kosovars. She specifically referred to assistance in building new camps and in transporting relief supplies.

In Brussels today, NATO said it had received some reports of ethnic cleansing in villages in Montenegro along the Kosovo border. The NATO spokesman gave no details. Montenegro yesterday also said it was investigating.

NATO said that last night and this morning it made new attacks on military targets and Serb ground forces. The industrial city of Nis, which is the headquarters of the Yugoslav Army Command responsible for Kosovo, was attacked by missiles. Other targets included ammunition depots, fuel depots and military bases.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said four weeks of NATO airstrikes have destroyed 50 percent of Yugoslavia's best fighter planes, the MiG-29s, 25 percent of its MiG-21s and 30 percent of its Super Galebs, which he said are used in attacks on civilians in Kosovo.

But Spain's foreign minister, Abel Matutes, said NATO underestimated the potential refugee problem when it began the airstrikes on March 24. He said the alliance failed to foresee that the flow of refugees would be "so massive and it was overwhelmed."

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, who met with Blair in Brussels, stressed that "as we destroy and damage Milosevic's extensive military machine, we are also taking care of Milosevic's victims" -- the waves of ethnic Albanians he has driven from the country.
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