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Yugoslavia: Ethnic Albanians Returning To Their Homes In Kosovo

Pristina, 28 October 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Large numbers of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are reportedly returning to their abandoned homes today following the withdrawal of Serbian security forces from the province. U.N. special envoy Jiri Dienstbier said today the situation in Kosovo has noticeably improved since the Serbian withdrawal but that "a lot more still needs to be done."

A U.N. spokeswoman, Laura Boldrini, said today that while the agency has no estimate of the number of people still living in the open, "there had been a big change and people are really going back to their homes."

Earlier today, General Klaus Naumann, chairman of NATO's military committee, said the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo is not complete but moves so far represent a "considerable step in the direction" of fulfilling U.N. demands.

NATO is today beginning to mount its unarmed aerial surveillance mission over Kosovo. The mission will verify whether army and special police forces in Kosovo are being cut back to levels they were before a crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists began in the province eight months ago.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also announced today that an international team of 20 verifiers has arrived in Kosovo and will be joined by a further 70 in the next few days.