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First Kosovo refugees arrive in U.S.

Leaving behind crowded camps, some Kosovar refugees fly to America
CNN's Gary Tuchman tours the Army base in New Jersey that is providing temporary housing for Kosovo refugees (May 5)
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CNN's Tom Mintier saw the first group of Kosovo refugees leave for the U.S. Wednesday (May 5)
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Crisis in Kosovo

May 5, 1999
Web posted at: 1:50 p.m. EDT (1750 GMT)

McGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, New Jersey (CNN) -- The first of 20,000 refugees from the Serbian province of Kosovo arrived in New Jersey on Wednesday, leaving behind the squalid refugee camps of Macedonia.

A 747 jetliner flew to New Jersey from Macedonia with 453 refugees aboard. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will greet the refugees at McGuire Air Force Base, about 50 miles (80 km) south of New York, which has sent several hundred of its own airmen to the Balkans.

The refugees are being transported by bus to the nearby U.S. Army base at Fort Dix, where they will be housed in barracks while they go through medical and legal processing.

"We're kind of an Ellis Island type of setup here to assist them in that," said Col. John Smith, an Army spokesman.

While waiting, they can enjoy the base's recreational facilities, which include a swimming pool, a go-cart track and a miniature golf course.

In the nearby borough of Wrightstown, Mayor Jozsef Farago has urged his constituents to donate clothing and money to help the refugees. Farago, who came to the United States from Hungary in 1956, even suggests inviting refugees over for dinner.

Even the smallest refugee is photographed before making the journey to the United States  

"These are the things that hold fond memories for me when I was in a refugee camp in Italy," he said.

The refugees will stay at Fort Dix for about three weeks before being placed with host families around the United States. Most of the rest will be processed in Macedonia and will fly to civilian airports.

Most of those awaiting the temporary relocation approached the 4,600-mile journey with some anxiety. They didn't want to leave Kosovo, and once evicted, their first choice for relocation would be a European country. But they say they are grateful that the United States will take them in temporarily.

"I would like to stay near Kosovo, because America is too far," one woman said. "But we are proud to go there because they have always supported us."

Correspondents Gary Tuchman and Tom Mintier contributed to this report.

Albania might move refugees farther from Kosovo
May 5, 1999
Clinton heads to Europe for NATO bombing update
May 4, 1999
NATO pounds Yugoslav targets after flurry of diplomacy
May 4, 1999
NATO strikes knock out Serb electrical power
May 3, 1999
NATO airstrikes press on despite prisoner release
May 2, 1999
Two jets crash in Kosovo campaign
May 2, 1999
More refugees pour into Albania, Macedonia
April 30, 1999

Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from

  • F-117s arrive at Aviano to support possible NATO operations
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

U.S Military:
  • Air Force Link - Official Web Site of the U. S. Air Force
  • Welcome to the U.S. Army Homepage
  • U.S. Navy: Welcome Aboard
  • MarineLINK

  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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