Refugees seek peace, security outside Balkans
April 12, 1999
TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- While hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians have sought refuge in camps just outside the borders of Kosovo, a few hundred more have made their way much farther from the burning Yugoslav province -- to outside countries that agreed, at least temporarily, to host some refugees.
Planes bearing about 100 ethnic Albanians each landed Monday in Israel and in Norway, where they were welcomed with open arms.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, were on hand in Tel Aviv for the arrival, greeting the refugees on the eve of Israel's annual day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews exterminated in the Nazi Holocaust.
Israel, which operates a field hospital for refugees in Macedonia, agreed to take in a small number of refugees for six months. Seventeen families from the Stenkovec refugee camp answered the call to fly to Tel Aviv.
Most of the refugees will be housed in a hostel near a coastal kibbutz, and all will be given $9,000 for food and expenses.
Farther north, Norway has agreed to take some 6,000 Kosovo refugees. Many of the new arrivals say they chose Norway over other countries because it was the farthest place from the nightmare that was their home.
"We don't know anyone," said refugee Admir Kastrati, who came to Norway late last week. "We don't know the Norwegian language, but what we're going to say is 'Thank you, Norwegian people.'
"Right now, we have a home where it's warm. We have food, we got a little peace," he said.
Many of the displaced Kosovars vow to return home when the war is over, although aid workers say refugees often change their minds after becoming accustomed to their new environment.
And at least in Norway, they'll most likely be treated like family -- a recent survey found that 25 percent of Norwegians were willing to take a Kosovar family into their homes.
Correspondent Richard Roth and Reuters contributed to this report.
NATO vows to prevail in Yugoslavia
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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