U.S. sending refugee aid, more combat ships, jets to Balkans
April 3, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military will rush food, tents and other emergency aid to help refugees from Kosovo, while adding an aircraft carrier to the NATO force in the region, the Pentagon said Saturday.
The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt and its support ships will join U.S. and British ships already in the Adriatic Sea for the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia, said Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon.
The Roosevelt, which carries 50 combat aircraft, is expected to arrive in the Adriatic by Monday.
In addition, another 13 F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters reportedly left their base in New Mexico for Italy, which will double the number of those aircraft in the region.
The NATO campaign against Yugoslavia entered its eleventh day Saturday, as Macedonia and Albania were reeling from a flood of ethnic Albanian refugees that Western officials said were fleeing a Serb offensive in Kosovo.
Bacon said the United States would send half a million packages of rations to the region, with each package representing a day's supply of food for a refugee.
The first cargo plane carrying rations left Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday, Bacon said. In addition, the U.S. military was making preparations to ship tents, sleeping bags and cots to the region, he said.
A Marine unit will be sent to Macedonia and Albania to assess the refugees' needs, and a massive C-5 cargo plane carrying loaders and forklifts will be sent to the region to help distribute the aid, Bacon said.
In other comments during the Pentagon news conference, Bacon:
"The Russians have said they plan to stay out of this conflict and we take that commitment seriously," Bacon said.
Montenegro has tried to remain neutral in the fight between Serbia and NATO, and Bacon said the allies would have a "strong reaction" to any attempt by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic or his government to interfere with Montenegrin government.
NATO missiles strike central Belgrade
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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