Kosovo refugees pour into Macedonia
March 22, 1999
BIAE, Macedonia (CNN) -- Fighting between Yugoslav government troops and ethnic Albanian rebels has triggered an increased flow of refugees from Kosovo into Macedonia, with hundreds of them crossing the border on Monday.
Officials said that about 100 people were crossing the border each hour.
The refugees, carrying their belongings, said they no longer felt safe in Kosovo now that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has pulled out its monitors.
Many refugees spoke of nighttime fighting between Serbian police and members of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.
Macedonian government officials said a conservative estimate of the number of refugees who had crossed the border in recent days was about 10,000.
So far, according to government officials, Albanian relief groups have been able to place the refugees with ethnic Albanian families in Macedonia.
The OSCE's Kosovo Verification Mission -- which amounted to 1,400 observers -- began pulling out of Kosovo over the weekend after an international attempt to broker a peace agreement for Kosovo broke down, and NATO again threatened to strike Serbian military targets if the Yugoslav government did not sign the peace document.
The Verification Mission had been set up by the OSCE to monitor a truce agreement to end a government crackdown on the KLA in Kosovo.
Holbrooke, mediators pressure Belgrade on Kosovo
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - Facts
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