Fears of new Kosovo exodus

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AID WORKERS in Macedonia said about 600 Kosovo refugees had entered the country yesterday after 300 on Saturday, as numbers continued to rise after a 10-day pause.

The aid workers said their arrival might herald the start of a new exodus, similar to the days in April and early May when several thousands fled from Kosovo every day. The border was closed on 5 May when Macedonia said it could not cope with the influx, and has just reopened.

"We anticipate when the word spreads the border is open we are going to see more and more people," said Ron Redmond, spokesman for the UNHCR refugee agency. He said the UNHCR had a contingency plan to accommodate 150,000 more ethnic Albanians.

There was space in some of the refugee camps as more than 45,000 people had been taken to third countries; existing camps might be expanded but the Macedonian government was reluctant to allow a new camp to be built.

Most new arrivals were from the Urosevac area in southern Kosovo who "decided to make a dash for it" after hearing the border was open again, he said.