UK accused on refugees

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AS A SECOND group of Kosovo refugees arrived in Britain from Macedonia yesterday, Germany accused the UK of shirking its responsibilities in the crisis.

About 160 refugees landed at East Midlands airport last night, including 18 said to be in need of medical treatment.

The refugees were divided into two groups and taken by bus to two reception centres, one in Derbyshire, the other in Leicestershire.

Those taken to Derbyshire were expected to be housed in a former residential special school near Chesterfield. The other group was expected to be accommodated in a hotel on the outskirts of Leicester, run by the British Red Cross.

Last night's influx follows the arrival in West Yorkshire at the weekend of about 160 refugees, mostly women and children. They are being housed in two nursing homes in Leeds city centre.

A leading German politician yesterday accused both Britain and France of failing to share the burden of looking after refugees. Germany has already volunteered to take 10,000 Kosovars and there is talk of doubling number.

Peter Struck, parliamentary leader of the ruling Social Democrat Party, told the newspaper Bild: "We have completely fulfilled our obligations and expect the other European Union nations to follow suit. England and France especially have not taken a single refugee. That's just incredible."

Although Mr Struck's remarks were incorrect, Germans suspect they will end up taking in the vast majority of Balkan refugees.

More than half of all the people fleeing the wars in Croatia and Bosnia from 1991-95 ended up Germany, including 350,000 from Bosnia alone.

Mr Struck said: "We cannot talk about taking more refugees until the other European states fulfil their pledges."