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World - Europe

Condition of Kosovar refugees deteriorating

refugee
The United States will take in 20,000 Kosovar refugees; those with relatives in the U.S. get priority

 ALSO
NATO drawing up plans to cut off Yugoslav oil imports

NATO reaffirms power to take action without U.N. approval

 In-Depth Special:
NATO at 50

 

Ethnic Albanians coming to U.S. may be processed at Fort Dix, New Jersey

April 24, 1999
Web posted at: 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT)

STENKOVEC, Macedonia (CNN) -- More than 2,220 ethnic Albanian refugees crossed the border into Macedonia on Saturday, joining a human exodus from Kosovo that now numbers more than 600,000 since NATO airstrikes began.

But relief officials say many of the people coming across the borders now are in much worse shape than those who crossed in the early days of the refugee crisis.

"What we see generally is the situation people are arriving in is vastly deteriorating," said Kaz DeJong, a clinical psychologist with the relief group Doctors Without Borders. "The longer this lasts, the worse it will be getting."

At the Stenkovec camp in Macedonia, officials are bracing for 30,000 to 50,000 more refugees.

"I expect them not to be in good condition, and especially the mental situation for them -- the hopelessness," said Dr. Thei Haumann, of Doctors Without Borders.

The United States has agreed to take in as many as 20,000 of the refugees, giving priority to those with relatives living in America. They may be processed at the U.S. Army's regional reserve training center at Fort Dix, New Jersey, base spokeswoman Carolee Nisbet said.

Fort Dix is considered a logical choice for processing and short-term housing of the refugees because of its proximity to McGuire Air Force Base and to the New York metropolitan area, which is home to several hundred thousand ethnic Albanians.

refugees
In the refugee camps, radios and newspapers bring word of loved ones still in Kosovo  

Nisbet said U.S. officials are considering up to nine sites for processing the refugees. A decision on where the refugees will be initially placed could come early next week, she said.

Radio broadcasts aimed at refugees begin

To counter the sense of isolation and dislocation felt by the displaced Kosovars, relief agencies have organized radio broadcasts featuring Albanian reporters and information tailored toward the refugees. The broadcasts began Saturday.

Relief workers estimate that about 25 percent of the refugees have radios, which have become a thin lifeline for those who have lost nearly everything else.

The U.N. has also started a newsletter aimed at teens and children, who make about half of the more than 350,000 refugees in Albania. It will be written by the teen-agers themselves.

"It is also very healing for the community when teen-agers, when children, are given a space to speak and tell the story from their perspective," said Robert Cohen of UNICEF. "There is no child who wants war."

Correspondents Richard Blystone and Santinder Bindra and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
NATO unleashes missile assault across Yugoslavia
April 24, 1999
NATO beefs up forces, moves to block Yugoslav oil
April 23, 1999
Kosovar men, feared victims of massacres, appear at border
April 23, 1999
NATO marks 50th in midst of Balkan war
April 23, 1999
Red Cross says Yugoslavia won't allow visit to POWs
April 23, 1999
U.S. not sending 2nd carrier to Yugo war
April 23, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
  • Kosovo

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

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • 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


Relief:
  • 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


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

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