U.N. pleads for more money for Kosovo refugees
Agency is spending $1 million daily
May 11, 1999
SKOPJE, Macedonia (CNN) -- The United Nations' refugee agency said Tuesday it is running short of money to aid about 750,000 refugees from the Kosovo conflict.
"If more resources and significant resources are not announced immediately, we will not be able to make the further essential programs and commitments to assist refugees," said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The U.N. needs more than $1 million a day to feed and house the refugees, most of whom left Kosovo with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
When the first Kosovar Albanians were pushed out of Yugoslavia more than six weeks ago, the U.N. launched a financial appeal for $143 million. To date, only $77 million has arrived.
The U.N. says the need is dire -- nations have been sending donations, but it is being spent faster than it comes in.
"I appeal in particular to countries in Europe and the European Commission," Sdako Ogata, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement released Tuesday. "It is essential that they bear a larger part of the burden.
And while the money runs low, tensions at overcrowded refugee camps run high.
Two protests broke out in a Macedonian camp Monday, prompting U.N. officials to consider using an international police contingent in the camps instead of local officers.
Officials also are trying to move refugees from the camps to other countries. Macedonia, in particular, has urgently called for relief, fearing economic or political collapse if nearly 250,000 refugees there aren't moved out more quickly.
More than 10,000 people are to travel to 20 countries over the next week, Redmond said, and officials are trying to convince refugees in Macedonia to go to Albania, which has offered to house them.
But the ethnic Albanians are reluctant to go to camps in Albania, partly because that country has no evacuation program to countries outside the Balkans. More than 423,000 Kosovar Albanians have crossed into Albania.
Meanwhile, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said Tuesday she would help the Hague-based International War Crimes Tribunal's investigation into alleged atrocities committed against the ethnic Albanians.
Traveling in Croatia, Robinson said the Kosovo crisis highlights the need for "building reconciliation between ethnic groups, issues of human rights, more tolerance and commitment to democratic human rights values."
Robinson is to travel to Belgrade on Wednesday.
Correspondent Tom Mintier contributed to this report.
NATO sees no sign of Yugoslav troop withdrawal
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
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