War In The Balkans - Briefing: Day 56

The aid agency Oxfam warned that relief efforts were in danger of failing refugees from Kosovo because they were not properly co-ordinated. There was an urgent need for a more coherent response by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), aid agencies, donor governments and Macedonia and Albania, where most of the refugees have fled. UNHCR should take a more robust leadership role, as donor governments were setting up camps independently. Camps in Macedonia were under great strain, and in Albania refugees were settling along roads as camps were full, Oxfam said yesterday.

David Scheffer, the US State Department's ambassador-at-large for war crimes, said yesterday at least 5,000 people, and probably many more, had been killed in mass executions in 75 villages in Kosovo. About 225,000 men in Kosovo between the ages of 14 and 59 were unaccounted for, but he stressed that this did not mean they had been killed.

Two Serb soldiers held as prisoners of war by the US military were released yesterday, and crossed into Yugoslavia from Hungary. The freeing of the soldiers, who had been seized by Kosovo rebels, follows the release earlier this month of three US army soldiers who had been captured on 31 March along the border between Kosovo and Macedonia.

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